Man of la Mancha
Reviewed – 30th April 2019
“the real star of the show, is Danielle De Niese …her voice soars and enchants with a lilting sweetness and strength”
Man of La Mancha is set in a Detention Centre and begins with the arrival of two new prisoners, Cervantes and his manservant. They have a trunk with them, and the inmates are keen to plunder it. The Governor, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst, wants to put Cervantes on trial and confiscate his belongings if he is found guilty, and Cervantes makes his defence in the form of a play; Don Quixote. The Don tilts at windmills and falls in courtly love with Aldonza, a serving girl and part time prostitute in a roadside inn, who he sees as a perfect woman and names his Lady Duncinea. Cervantes casts the other inmates in various roles, and the Governor plays the innkeeper, giving Lyndhurst the opportunity to switch from forbidding to gently incompetent, which he does with skill and evident enjoyment. Cervantes’ manservant and Don Quixote’s squire Sancho Panza are played by Peter Polycarpou, and he is one of the show’s delights. He is funny and touching in his devotion to the eccentric knight, and to his ‘real’ master.
The other delight, and the real star of the show, is Danielle De Niese who plays Aldonza/Dulcinea. She is fiery, strong and vulnerable, angry at Quixote’s refusal to see her for who she really is, coping with the rough muleteers in the inn, who eventually brutalise her, and very touching at the end when she accepts the name Dulcinea for the first time and starts the spine tinglingly beautiful cast version of The Impossible Dream. Her voice soars and enchants with a lilting sweetness and strength, and her acting is powerful and compelling.
It is Kelsey Grammer’s misfortune to be surrounded by a cast of hugely talented singers. His Cervantes/Quixote is engaging and hugely characterful; on the acting front he doesn’t put a foot wrong, but his voice doesn’t stand up well against virtuoso talent such as De Niese. His rendition of ‘Dulcinea’ felt insecure and in his solo ‘Impossible Dream’ he seemed to be bracing himself for the top notes. When the muleteers sing ‘Little Bird’ it is evident that there are some fabulous voices in the ensemble; this is a very strong cast. Emanuel Alba deserves a mention for his lovely comic turn as the barber, and Eugene McCoy’s Duke has a nice touch of the Lucius Malfoys when we first see him.
As you would expect of the Coliseum, the set, lighting and sound, by James Noone, Rick Fisher and Mick Potter respectively, are superb. Rebecca Howell is the choreographer, and she has created some exceptional work, such as the electrifying gypsy dance, for this piece. Fight Director Kate Waters produced a lovely comedy fracas at the inn, and Fotini Dimou’s costume design allows for some impressively quick changes and helps create a convincing world within Noone’s set.
The story of Don Quixote is a love song to the imagination and Man of La Mancha takes us into a double world. Do we prefer the reality or the fantasy? Each of us has to decide for ourselves, but Quixote’s fantasy world has a purity and beauty that entices and enchants.
Reviewed by Katre
Photography by Manuel Harlan
Man of la Mancha
London Coliseum until 8th June
Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S
NICHOLAS LYNDHURST TO
JOIN KATHERINE JENKINS & ALFIE BOE
Nicholas Lyndhurst (Star Keeper) joins the previously announced Alfie Boe (Billy Bigelow) and Katherine Jenkins (Julie Jordan) in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, the third production in the partnership between The GradeLinnit Company and English National Opera (ENO).
This semi-staged production of Carousel marks BAFTA Award Winning Actor Nicholas Lyndhurst’s return to the West End stage, where he was last seen in Trevor Nunn’s 2011 production of The Tempest at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. His other West End credits include Allan Davis’ The Straight and Narrow at the Wyndham’s Theatre, Peter Hall’s production of The Dresser at the Duke of York’s Theatre and The Foreigner, by Larry Shue at the Albany Theatre. Lyndhurst is best known for his classic television series; Only Fools and Horses, Goodnight Sweetheart, After You’ve Gone, Rock & Chips, Butterflies and The Piglet Files. Lyndhurst can also be seen in the 2016 film, A United Kingdom.
Lonny Price will direct the season of 41 performances at ENO’s London Coliseum. Beginning on 7 April 2017, with press night on 11 April 2017 at 7pm, the final performance in this strictly limited five week run takes place on 13 May 2017. ENO award winning 40 piece orchestra and chorus, conducted by David Charles Abell, will accompany the cast in this semi-staged production. Tickets for Carousel are £12 – £110, with over 100 available at £12 for every performance.
Further casting includes Brenda Edwards (Nettie Fowler), Derek Hagen (Jigger Craigin), Alex Young (Carrie Pipperidge), Gavin Spokes (Enoch Snow), Susan Kyd (Mrs Mullin), Martyn Ellis (Mr Bascombe) and Davide Fienauri (Carnival Boy). Final casting will be announced shortly.
Other parts will be played by Bruce Aguilar Rohan, Thomas Audibert, Will Barratt, Jay Bryce, Danielle Cato, Jacob Chapman, Nolan Edwards, Alexander Evans, Lizzi Franklin, Alice Jane, Tessa Kadler, Hannah Kenna Thomas, Jasmine Leung, Leisha Mollyneaux, Rachel Muldoon, Saori Oda, Kane Oliver Parry, Daniel Perry, Alastair Postlethwaite, Joseph Poulton, Verity Quade, Genevieve Taylor, James Titchener, Adam Vaughan, Matthew Whennell-Clark and Anna Woodside.
When the charming Carousel Barker, Billy Bigelow falls in love with Julie Jordan, little do they realise that their relationship will end in tragedy. Fifteen years after getting caught up in an armed robbery, Billy gets the chance to redeem his past and restore pride to his family.
Carousel is presented by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade with English National Opera who have previously produced together the critically acclaimed seasons of Sweeney Todd with Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel and Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close. The GradeLinnit Company are currently producing 42nd Street, to open March 2017 at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S
7 April – 13 May 2017
English National Opera, London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES
Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Tickets £12 – £110.00 plus booking fee
(no booking fee in person at Box Office)
020 7845 9300
NB – Katherine Jenkins will not be performing on Tuesday 18 April 2017 – the role of Julie Jordan will be played by Molly Lynch
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