Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 16, 2015

Man of La Mancha

Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, MA
through July 11, 2015
by Shera Cohen

As in past years, Barrington Stage (BSC) opens its mainstage season, this time for its 10th anniversary, with a blockbuster musical. Yet, mounting a tried ‘n true, oft-remembered Broadway show on a smaller scale does not by any means ensure success in text translation, actors’ skills, director’s imagination, or box office tallies.

Well, no worries here. BSC presents a splendid “Man of La Mancha” with nearly every element top-notch. Taking Cervantes’ dashing and dark, poignant and philosophical, simplistic and sincere portrait of the mythical Don Quixote, director Julianne Boyd places all the important elements worked by talented individuals in precisely the right places at the correct pace. The result is a magical piece of theatre.

Phot by Kevin Sprague
Lead actor, BSC “regular,” is Jeff McCarthy, physically looks the part(s) of Cervantes and Don Quixote. McCarthy, excellent in last summer’s “All My Sons,” should be credited foremost as an actor, secondarily, an actor who can sing very well. McCarthy plays a 60-something man who, in turn, portrays an older man. His voice is true to his character especially in the signature piece, “The Impossible Dream.”

Young actress Felicia Boswell takes her role seriously, down and dirty, in your face. Her eyes light up with anger, sinking her teeth into the spirit of Aldonza, “the kitchen slut reeking in sweat.” There’s a bit of a 21st century edge to Boswell’s voice, initially somewhat distracting but soon becoming raw and real. Other notables include Todd Horman (Padre) whose smooth baritone is comforting. Sean MacLaughlin (Dr. Carrasco) creates an endearing side to his character which this reviewer has never seen in any prior productions. There is so much potential to thoroughly enjoy Tom Alan Robbins’ Sancho, except for the Brooklyn-sounding accent in speech and song.

Not enough can be said about the tech/backstage crew. At first sight, before finding your seat, looms a dark, dirty stage engulfed in floating dry-ice -- a feeling of lifelessness. The set is metal and stone. Jail bars hang, then miraculously become church stain-glass windows. Choreographer Greg Graham works hand-in-hand (fist-to-fist, sword-to-sword) with fight choreographer Ryan Winkles. Music director Darren R. Cohen leads his nine-piece orchestra to sound like double, triple the talent.