Tuesday, October 13, 2015

reviews - MAN OF LA MANCHA - Theater Works

Rob Allocca, Rusty Ferracane and Janine Colletti
Photo: Moran Imaging
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 25th.

"...On the 50th anniversary of (Man of La Mancha's) Broadway opening, Theater Works of Peoria premiered its 30th season at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts with Wasserman’s dream, and now it has a problem.  If anyone in the valley thought that maybe a theatre stretching a few miles north couldn’t possibly reach the professional standard of a Phoenix production, think again.  Under director D. Scott Withers’ guidance, Man of La Mancha is something quite wonderful...The story of Don Quixote is one of those literature classics that most have heard of but few really know...de Cervantes (a pitch perfect Rusty Ferracane) who finds himself arrested by the Spanish Inquisition and thrown in a dungeon, awaiting trial.  Along with his manservant, whose real name we never know but will later become Sancho Panza (Rob Alloca), de Cervantes is ordered by his fellow prisoners to explain himself.  In other words, he has a mock trial before his official one...The self described poet uses his manservant to tell the story.  Suddenly, in a setting where all the world’s a stage, the dungeon becomes a theatre and all the prisoners are players as the curious story of Don Quixote de La Mancha unfolds. ...scenic designer Brett Aiken’s dungeon.  When lit by Jeff Davis’ atmospheric lighting design, Aiken’s superior set comes alive in a way where you can practically smell the dankness of an underground cavern. ...You can’t help but be impressed...Katrina Sanders’ creative and energetic choreography keeps the proceedings lively.. Janine Colletti makes a handsome Aldonza, though curiously her singing voice is occasionally at odds with her speaking voice. ...as Don Quixote, Ferracane has a role tailor made to both his tall, lean, angular appearance and to his outstanding singing voice.  The Impossible Dream is the show-stopper you want, but there’s something more.  Author Wasserman gave his de Cervantes a glorious speech describing life as it should be and not as it is, and Ferracane delivers it with all the deepest, heartfelt emotion the moment requires.  Don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly reduced to tears.  It’s that good....Production credits are all of a high standard, from Tamara Treat’s costumes, Jacob Hamilton’s hair and make-up design, Matthew Sanders’ atmospheric sound, to Steve Hildebrand’s thrilling music direction.  This is one Theater Works production that inspires the notion that the impossible dream, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far, is truly reachable after all. " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary since opening on Broadway, Man of La Mancha is receiving a superb production at Theater Works. Grounded by a stellar performance from Rusty Ferracane as Don Quixote and with splendid direction and stunning creative elements, all composed of local Phoenix talent, the end result proves how regional theater can truly be excellent. Based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes, Dale Wasserman's touching and moving book includes a few moments of comedy and incorporates Cervantes as the main character who is imprisoned during the Spanish Inquisition. While he is waiting to be tried, he must defend his prized manuscript in a mock trial by his fellow prisoners in the dungeon where they are being held. Cervantes woos the inmates by telling the story of Don Quixote, the aging "mad" knight who travels with his squire Sancho and believes he has found the woman of his dreams, Dulcinea, in the kitchen wench Aldonza. ...Director D. Scott Withers has found an incredibly talented cast to bring this well-loved story to life. Rusty Ferracane is Cervantes and he brings an elegance and grace to the part...His powerful voice not only sounds excellent on all of his songs but he also brings the same passion and beauty to his dialogue delivery. It is a well thought out performance that is remarkably delivered and deserving of much praise. As Aldonza, Janine Colletti is earthy, gritty, and full of fire. She instills every line reading, facial expression, and body movement with a passion equal to Ferracane's take on Cervantes...When Colletti and Ferracane share a duet of "Impossible Dream" toward the end of the show, it is stirring, touching and full of emotion due to their outstanding performances...Withers...works well in having the whole cast deliver well thought out characters, whether small parts who mostly stay in the shadows like Bigley, or slightly crazy ones like Johnson's. Withers delivers a fluid, yet tight production, full of plenty of poignancy as well as moments of humor and even a bit of danger...Technical aspects are exceptional...While Man of La Mancha is now fifty years old and Cervantes' novel was written five hundred years ago, the tale of one man's quest and his dreams and the message of hope still resonates today. With a production that hits the mark in every way imaginable, Theater Works' Man of La Mancha is memorable, moving and simply extraordinary." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"Rusty Ferracane's captivating and inspired performance as Don Quixote...Ferracane commands the stage with a knightly prowess befitting his characters...Ferracane is so utterly believable that, as he gazes beyond the horizon, one senses that he really sees the impossible dream becoming fulfilled. ...His vocal range is faultless. ...A solid supporting cast joins Ferracane in this superbly crafted production: most notably, Rob Allocca as Quixote's manservant, Sancho; Janine Colletti as Aldonza/Dulcinea; and Jeremie McCubbin as the Padre who seeks to reason with the battered Quixote. Smartly directed by D. Scott Withers and meticulously choreographed by Katrina Sanders, Theater Works has inaugurated its 30th Anniversary Season with a sterling production of Dale Wasserman's timeless classic (now celebrating its 50th Anniversary). This must-see show runs through October 25th at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts."  -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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