Man Of La Mancha @ The Reginald

Stephen Anderson, Glenn Hill and Courtney Glass in MAN OF LA MANCHA
Inset Pic- Stephen Anderson, Glenn Hill and Courtney Glass. Featured Pic- Marika Aubrey, Ross Chisari and Tony Sheldon in MAN OF LA MANCHA

When MAN OF LA MANCHA opened on Broadway 50 years ago, it was in an era where Martin Luther King was espousing I Had A Dream and the Kennedy’s were quoting George Bernard Shaw You see things and you say “Why?” I dream things that never were, and I say “Why not.”

No wonder then the linchpin lyric of this endearing and enduring show is The Impossible Dream, the musical mantra of Don Quixote, the knight errant tiller of windmills, who sees life as it should be, noble and elevated, not as it is, vulgar and base.

Independent music theatre company, Squabbalogic’s fiftieth anniversary staging of MAN OF LA MANCHA has an impossible dream realised – the securing of Tony Sheldon, lauded local Broadway star now domiciled in the United States, to play the poet paladin.

Sheldon gives a rich, robust and beautifully rendered performance, radiating not only a prodigious and well-honed talent but a warmth and generosity. There’s a palpable sense that his captaincy ignites a committed response from the rest of the cast and by thrilling osmosis a contagion of delight infects the audience.

Of course, great captaincy is supported by an inspired coach, and James Jay-Moody cements his musical theatre directorial chops by conjuring a production of sheer theatrical magic including an appearing act of his own as the barber.

Moody has marshalled an impressive cast of actor/musicians, including musical director Paul Geddes who can be seen as Paco, who work in joyous ensemble to create a marvellous treat.

Marika Aubrey is fabulously ferocious in the role of Aldonza, the world wise and weary tavern wench who Don Quixote imagines to be Dulcinea, a lady he has sworn eternal allegiance.

Don Quixote’s faithful offsider, Sancho Panza, is winningly played by Ross Chisari who does double duty as the shows choreographer.

Glen Hill impresses as the padre with poised presence and superb singing and there’s strong work from cabaret diva, Joanna Weinberg, who plays both Dr Carasco and the Knight of Mirrors as well as accompanying on accordion, and Laurence Coy as the prison governor cum innkeeper not too bad on the skins.

Past Squabbalogic collaborators Hayden Barltrop, Rob Johnson, Shondelle Pratt, and Richard Woodhouse are joined by Stephen Anderson, Reece Budin , Courtney Glass , Brendan Hay , Glenn Hill , and Kyle Sapsford to complete this sensational ensemble, each and every cast member adding to the alchemy of comedy, drama, music and dance that produces pure entertainment gold.

Exquisite, exuberant, exhilarating, replete with a remarkable production and lighting design, this production of MAN OF LA MANCHA is a triumph.

A must see.

MAN OF LA MANCHA plays the Reginald, Seymour Centre, City Road, Chippendale until Saturday 21st March. Performance times Tuesdays to Fridays at 7.30pm and Saturdays at 2pm and 7.30pm. Tickets: $49 / Conc $42 / Under 30 – $30 Tues & Wed