Very few theatrical pleasures compare with the trumpet fanfare that opens "Man of La Mancha," the musical classic currently playing at Light Opera Works. The rousing overture, performed here as it was intended, is just a teaser for the magic that lies ahead: a Tony-winning musical full of stunning songs like “Dulcinea” and “The Impossible Dream." Nyela Basney passionately conducts her talented, 16-piece orchestra, bringing the stirring Spanish-infused score to life.
Adam Veness, that talented, young Jeff-nominated scenic designer, whose work has lately been seen on almost every Chicago stage, impresses again with his massive, 16th century dungeon, complete with two ominously clanking drawbridges, a giant staircase winding around the prison (enabling several dramatically theatrical entrances and exits) and walls pockmarked with secret grottos and hidden trapdoors. It’s complemented by Andrew Meyers‘ superbly thrilling lighting, while Jesus Perez demonstrates his own artistry creating costumes that not only feel authentic but transform easily as Quixote’s play-within-a-play unfolds.
Rudy Hogenmiller, LOW’s talented Artistic Director, draws upon his considerable experience as director and choreographer, staging this masterpiece with all the power and tenderness required to impress both veterans of this show as well as newcomers to Dale Wasserman/Mitch Leigh/Joe Darion’s magnum opus.
James Harms is absolute perfection in the title role, easily morphing between Cervantes into Don Quixote and back again, allowing audiences to see this mad knight’s story through his own eyes. Harms’ artistry, both as a skilled actor and a powerful singer, is reason enough for this production, although he’s closely matched by Colette Todd’s beautifully sung and fiercely acted Aldonza. Both share exquisite moments of tenderness and determination. However, while the entire cast impresses vocally, it’s the Muleteers, Quixote’s niece, his housekeeper and his horses who succeed most successfully as characters, making this “Impossible Dream” extremely possible.