MAN OF LA MANCHA is a remarkable show and one of the great theatre successes of our time. This is a play-within-a-play, based on Cervantes’ “Don Quixote.” We have a poignant story of a dying old man whose impossible dream takes over his mind. It’s All the Same, Dulcinea, I’m Only Thinking of Him, The Impossible Dream, I Really Like Him and Little Bird remain in your thoughts and in your soul well after you see the show.
His dream is Everyman’s dream. His tilting at windmills is Everyman’s great adventure. Somehow, the footlights disappear, time is telescoped and the “Man of La Mancha” speaks for humankind.
Miguel de Cervantes, aging and an utter failure in his varied careers as playwright, poet and tax collector for the government, has been thrown into a dungeon in Seville to await trial by the Inquisition for an offense against the Church. There he is hailed before a kangaroo court of his fellow prisoners; thieves, cutthroats and trollops who propose to confiscate his meager possessions one of which is the uncompleted manuscript of a novel called “Don Quixote.” Cervantes, seeking to save it, proposes to offer a novel defense in the form of entertainment. The “court” accedes and before their eyes, donning makeup and costume, Cervantes and his faithful manservant transform themselves into Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They proceed to play out the story with the participation of the prisoners as other characters.
Quixote and Sancho take to the road, on “horses” which dance a lively flamenco, singing Man of La Mancha in a campaign to restore the age of chivalry, to battle evil and right all wrongs. The famous encounter with the windmills follows, but Quixote ascribes his defeat to the machinations of his enemy, the dark Enchanter, whom one day he will meet in mortal combat.
In a roadside inn-which Quixote, spying from a distance, insists to Sancho is really a castle-Aldonza, the inn’s serving girl and part-time trollop, is propositioned by a gang of rough Muleteers. Quixote, arriving at the inn, sees Aldonza as the dream-ideal whom he will serve evermore, singing Dulcinea to her. Aldonza is confused and angered by Quixote’s refusal to see her as she really is.
The Padre and Dr. Carrasco arrive at the inn but on questioning Quixote, are frustrated by his lunatic logic. They are interrupted by the arrival of an itinerant Barber singing The Barber’s Song. Quixote confiscates the Barber’s shaving basin, convinced that it is really the “Golden Helmet” of Mambrino, and is ceremoniously crowned with the aid of the Muleteers and the incredulous Barber.
Later Aldonza encounters Quixote in the courtyard where he is holding vigil, in preparation for being dubbed a knight by the Innkeeper. She questions him on his seemingly irrational ways, and is answered by Quixote in a statement of his credo, The Impossible Dream.
Aldonza has caught the fever of Quixote’s idealism but, attempting to put it into practice, is cruelly beaten and ravaged by the Muleteers in The Abduction and is carried off.
On the road again, Quixote and Sancho encounter a thievish band of Moors and are robbed of all their possessions in the The Moorish Dance. They return to the inn, only to encounter the disillusioned Aldonza who sings her denunciation of the Quixotic dream in the dramatic Aldonza. A fantastic figure, the Enchanter disguised as the Knight of the Mirrors, enters; challenging Quixote to combat, the Enchanter defeats him, forcing him to see himself as a pathetic clown.
At home again, the old man who once called himself Don Quixote is dying. Aldonza, having followed, forces her way into the room, pleading poignantly with him to restore the vision of glory she held so briefly, in the song Dulcinea. Quixote, remembering, rises from his bed to reaffirm the stirring Man of La Mancha, but collapses, dying. Aldonza, having glimpsed the vision once more, refuses to acknowledge death, saying, “My name is Dulcinea.”
Back in Cervantes’ dungeon the prisoners, dregs of humanity though they are, have been deeply affected by his story and restore to him his precious manuscript. Cervantes is summoned to his real trial by the Inquisition. The prisoners unite to sing him on his way with The Impossible Dream.
MAN OF LA MANCHA
Written by Dale Wasserman
Music by Mitch Leigh Lyrics by Joe Darion
Original Production Staged by Albert Marre
Originally Produced by Albert W. Selden and Hal James
Such credits for all purposes shall be in a type size equal to that of any other credits except for those of the producer and star(s) above the title. No star may appear above the title of the play without the Licensor’s prior written approval, to be exercised in the Licensor’s sole and complete discretion. The credit for the authors shall be in a type size at least 75 percent of the size of the title of the play; and wherever the name of one of the authors appears, the other name(s) shall also appear. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.
The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:
MAN OF LA MANCHA
is presented by arrangement with
MusicScope & Stage Musicals Ltd. of New York
1 Reed I – Flute (I) and Piccolo (I)
1 Reed II – Flute (II) and Piccolo (II) NOTE: The Reed II part is optional.
1 Reed III – Oboe
1 Reed IV – Clarinet (I)
1 Reed V – Bassoon and Clarinet (II)
1 Horns I & II
1 Trumpets I & II
1 Trombone I (Tenor)
1 Trombone II (Bass)
1 String Bass
2 Guitars I & II (Spanish) NOTE: This part includes all Stage Guitar music.
1 Timpani (2 pedal or 3 hand-tuned Drums)
Floor Tom Tom
Temple Blocks (or 2 Wood Blocks)
Larger Floor Tom Tom
Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with the rehearsal material. (There is no Piano in the orchestration)
(5 female; 6 male)
Aldonza — Dulcinea
Antonia — Alonso’s niece
Fermina — Moorish Girl dancer
Maria — innkeeper’s wife
Housekeeper — employee of Alonso
Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote and Alonso Quijana)
Sancho Panza — manservant
Dr. Sanson Carrasco — Antonia’s fiancé and Knight of the Mirrors
Captain of the Inquisition — played by a prisoner
Governor — played by a prisoner
Duke — played by a prisoner
Four Attendants to the Knight — played by prisoners
Seven Muleteers: Jose, Tenorio, Paco, Juan, Anselmo, Pedro and a Guitar Player — prisoners
Men of the Inquisition
The original Broadway production had a cast of 23 performers, including chorus. Doubling was employed, including as indicated above.
MAN OF LA MANCHA played for 2,328 performances in New York at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre and on Broadway at the Martin Beck, Eden and Mark Hellinger Theatres starring Richard Kiley and Joan Diener. Kiley and Diener repeated the success at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 1972, and the show has since been revived on Broadway several times, most recently in 2002 for 304 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre with Brian Stokes Mitchell in the title role and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Aldonza (Dulcinea). The show played for 253 performances in London at the Piccadilly Theatre.
5 Tony Awards for Musical, Composer and Lyricist, Director, Scenic Designer and Actor
The New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical
The Outer Critics Circle Award for Production