Review: Theo Ubique’s “Man of La Mancha”

lamanchapostcard

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents:

Man of La Mancha

Book by Dale Wasserman
Music by Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by Joe Darion
Directed by David Heimann
Music Directed by Ethan Deppe
Thru November 22nd (buy tickets)

reviewed by Katy Walsh

lamancha21 With a plunger for a sword and a bowl for a helmet, Cervantes proclaims he is the knight, Don Quixote. Sounds crazy? Set in a mental institution, the asylum’s newest inmate, Cervantes, must convince a jury of his peers that he is not crazy. Man of La Mancha, then, is a play within a play. Don Quixote tells his tale of slaying dragons (windmills), storming castles (the local inn) and rescuing a lady in distress (the local whore) to prove his identity. From the playwright  (Dale Wasserman), who penned One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the man (and No Exit Café owner Michael James), whose father first produced the 1965 Broadway version, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents this musical featuring a woman as the Man of La Mancha.

Instead of going in a Victor/Victoria direction – a  woman believing she is a man believing she’s a different man – this production of Man of La Mancha introduces Danielle Brothers (Cervantes/Don Quixote) as simply a man. Brothers does an excellent job of sustaining that illusion. With a formal elocution, she portrays a man of chivalry and honor from days gone by. There are only sporadic moments of …oh right, Brothers is a woman… during some of the songs. Singing in a range not her norm, Brothers hits the notes but loses a little power on the projection. This is most apparent when she is singing with her sidekick Sancho (Anthony John Lawrence Apodaca). Accompanied by a live orchestra, the cast’s amazing singing leads to involuntary shoulder dancing and humming. “To Dream the Impossible Dream” prompts hope and empowerment within a crazy world. This light hearted musical energy is briefly interrupted with “The Abduction” song. More precise, “The Rape” song is a little startlingly dramatic to the overall enjoyment of crazy people’s antics.

lamancha1 Bringing back dinner theatre, Theo Ubique provides a dinner option for an additional $23. But don’t go for the food! Salad, frittata, and banana bread isn’t a bad three course meal. It’s just not a great one. Go for the opportunity to experience the actors already in character on stage and serving the meal. Apodaca is our repeat server (also served us in the company’s Jeff Award-winning Evita). Apodaca warns us to keep an eye on our silverware around the inmates. During the dinner hour, it’s fascinating to observe the interpretations of insanity. Daniel Waters (Padre) was particularly intriguing (I want to say creepy but that doesn’t sound politically correct) as he sat on the stage rocking. Go crazy and over tip! Chicago actors as servers is one of my favorite charities to support.

 

Rating: «««

 

Aside: The man who is perfectly at home in any asylum, Dick describes the show as crazy, romantic and cool.

Creative/Production Team

   
Book: Dale Wasserman
Music: Mitch Leigh
Lyrics: Joe Darion
Director David Heimann
Music Director: Ethan Deppe
Choreographer: Maggie Portman
Light/Set Design: Kyle Land
Costume Design: Carrie Colden
Stage Manager: Christopher Pazdernik
Cast: Anthony John Lawrence Apodaca
Danielle Brothers
Trisha Hart Ditsworth
Kyle Greer
Sarah Hayes
Michael Herschberg
Kent L. Joseph
Tom Moore
Maggie Portman
Daniel Waters
Jennifer Young

WAITING FOR THE SHOW

No Exit Café is located off the Morse stop of the Red Line. Riding the CTA’s, To fight the unbeatable foe,

it’s hard to determine your E.T.A. So, it’s nice to know the neighborhood hotspot, The Glenwood (6962 N. Glenwood) is expanding especially for transients waiting for the doors to open. The welcoming bartender allows me to taste two of the red wine options and I settle on the spicier MSP Premonition. A local at the bar strikes up a wine conversation. He recommends trying Taste Food and Wine (1506 W. Jarvis) for their complimentary evening wine tastings from 6 – 7:30 and eating Italian gourmet at Gruppo DiAmici (1508 W. Jarvis). Post show this recommendation, This is my quest to follow that star, becomes an ideal plan for Theo Ubique’s 2010 production of Chess.

After a little difficulty finding a cab, we leave Rogers Park to head to Andersonville, To run where the brave dare not go. In Fine Spirits (5420 N. Clark) is a perfect place for a nightcap. The extensive cocktail and wine list is overwhelming but the helpful staff is always ready to match your taste with the right choice, No matter how hopeless No matter how far. Having skipped dessert, Dick opts for a cheese flight with a side olives. Beautifully presented, the sampling tastes as good as it looks. Inspired with gallantry from the show, Dick insists on picking up the tab. I try to protest but decide not to right the unrightable wrong.

3 Responses

  1. I saw the production this past weekend and was very pleasantly surprised. Diane Brothers was spectacular as Don Quixote, and the performances by everyone else on the cast were beautiful and (no pun intended) fully “committed.” Brilliant! I was so moved and inspired by the show I had to write a blog post about it! Thanks for this review.

  2. […] Check out the rest at Chicago Theater Blog […]

  3. […] Brothers: Man of La Mancha – Theo Ubique Theatre  (review ★★★) Sarah Hayes: Man of La Mancha – Theo Ubique Theatre   […]

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