‘Man of La Mancha’ demonstrates Indianapolis Opera is alive and well

March 24, 2017

I have a very special place in my heart for “Man of La Mancha” because it was among the first Broadway musicals I saw as a college theater student.  Since then,  I’ve seen numerous professional, community and educational theater production. A timeless work, I never tire of, I had the opportunity to experience it once again Wednesday during a dress rehearsal preview of the Indianapolis Opera production which opens tonight at 8 p.m. and is followed by performances on Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. and  Sunday, March 25 at 2:30 p.m. at the Schrott Center on the Butler University Campus.

L-R Scott Wichael & David Malis - Photo courtesy of Denis Kelly. Used by permission.

L-R Scott Wichael & David Malis in “Man of La Mancha” – Photo courtesy of Denis Kelly. Used by permission.

“Man of La Mancha premiered on Broadway in 1965. With a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh. the musical is inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his seventeenth-century masterpiece Don Quixote. A play within a play “Man of La Mancha” follows the adventures of a nobleman who lives in a world of fantasy  in which he battles evil and fights for justice as a chivalrous knight Performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners, the play is presented as the writer awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition.

"Man of La Mancha" Courtesy of Denis Kelly. Used by permission.

“Man of La Mancha” – Courtesy of Denis Kelly. Used by permission.

The IO production was directed by David Craig Starkey, the company’s new general directer, with John Clayton expertly conducting a fine pickup orchestra. The large cast features David Cardiff, who spent twelve seasons as a leading baritone at the Met, as Don Quixote. Cardiff was superb as the stoic and goodhearted knight who strives to undo evils and commanding as he sung the musical’s most well known song, “The Impossible Dream.”

Tenor Scott Wichael showed comic flair as Don Quixote’s loyal sidekick Sancho. Wichael as Sancho exuded charm while singing “I Really Like Him,” his reply to a question about why he follows his unbalanced master.

Soprano Karin Mushegai, as the hardened prostitute Aldonza who Don Quixote believes is the virtuous Dulcenea, turned in a impressive vocal and acting performance.  Mushegai was particularly powerful when she sang “Aldonza”—a plea to the delusional knight to see her as she really is.

"Man of La Mancha" - Courtesy of Denis Kelly. Used by permission

“Man of La Mancha” – Courtesy of Denis Kelly. Used by permission

Overall, the IO production was a satisfying experience but lacked a  level of dynamic energy possessed by  musical theatre performers as opposed to opera singers for whom the vocals take precedent. Also, the pace of the production drug at times. Still, the musical’s magnificent score interpreted by the company of splendid singers and its inspirational story more than made up for the production’s imperfections.

"Man of La Mancha" - Courtesy of Denis Kelly. Used by permission.

“Man of La Mancha” – Courtesy of Indianapolis Opera. Used by permission.

Tickets for “Man of La Mancha” can only be ordered by calling the Indianapolis Opera Center at (317) 283-3531 or ordering online at www.indyopera.org. Any unsold tickets will be available at the door. Prices range from $25 – $75; students tickets are $20; and groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount.



photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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