Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Thursday, 13 February 2014 12:32

'Man of LaMancha' is a textured and charming fantasy

Written by Tina Farmer
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

The Details

'Man of LaMancha' is a textured and charming fantasy / Carol Rosegg

Audiences at the beautiful Peabody Opera House were treated to a brief escape from the winter's chill in St. Louis with a warm and inviting production of "Man of La Mancha" from Chasing Windmills LLC. The cast is strong throughout and the story an interesting and engaging interpretation of Cervantes life, as well as his most famous tale.

The story is set in a sort of dungeon, or mass holding cell, during the Spanish Inquisition, and the scenic design by Randel Wright is simply gorgeous. There are several levels for the actors, including a dramatic center staircase which lowers and raises like a drawbridge. The lighting design, by Charlie Morrison and John Burkland, is striking and used to great effect in transitions as well as to heighten tension during important scenes.

The experience began shortly before the opening curtain, with a series of songs, some accompanied with dance, a loose, relaxed preshow that easily moves into the orchestra’s more formal opening. As the show opens, Cervantes is brought in, and the story of the errant knight Don Quixote unfolds as he awaits trial. The pretext is clever and creates a lively set-up as Cervantes reaches into a large trunk and hands out costume bundles to other prisoners, assigning the roles of various characters important to Quixote's story.

Cureton is lively and expressive, with excellent costume and make-up that exaggerates the idea of mad genius on the friendly side. His hair and eyebrows so comically styled, they are almost a character of their own. Though his voice is at times thin, Cureton infuses his character with a zest for life and storytelling that is infectious. He bounds across the stage energetically, but always with a courtly air and sensibility.

Cureton has a strong supporting cast around him, particularly Jessica Norland, as Aldonza, and Rick Grossman as Sancho. The three show a genuine rapport on stage, expertly playing off each other with perfectly timed reactions and expressions. The actors work well together, and there is a genuine sense of spontaneity and natural expression in many of their scenes.

Norland has a strong and beautiful voice, and it is a highlight when she is included in the songs. Her Aldonza is experienced, and at times a bit world weary, setting up lovely moments as she finds her self touched by Quixote’s chivalry and chaste affection. Norland skillfully transitions through her character’s changes, and it is a pleasure to watch her tough, street-smart demeanor soften without breaking. The success of her portrayal is that she is never weak, but she gains a sense of hope and some small happiness.

Grossman’s Sancho is appropriately slapstick, when the scene calls for it, but he is nobody’s fool. Cureton and Grossman play off each other almost offhandedly. Their relationship feels natural and long-term, with a wealth of humor that’s rooted in affection and respect. Even when he is puzzled by Quixote’s actions, Sancho remains steadfast and loyal, and Grossman plays this to near perfection. But, Grossman’s performance is more than simple sidekick; he commands attention without stealing focus as he marshals the other characters to their places in the story. Grossman is at times subtle, at times overt, and always charmingly direct. It works to great effect.

The ensemble features a number of performers with the combination of voice, movement, and acting abilities to secure leading roles. This serves the production well, as there is always an interesting moment to keep your attention or add texture to the story.

Andrew Serkes guitar playing at the top of the show provided the first impressive ensemble moment. Chuck Caruso, Rachel Felstein, Todd Fenstermaker, Jebbel Arce, and Felipe Bombonato are also among the standout ensemble members in this production. Each of these actors caught my eye with their commitment to the character as well as the quality of their performance.

“Man of LaMancha” is just one of several intriguing shows in the Peabody Opera House season. To learn about upcoming shows and make reservations, visit or call (314) 499-7600.

Additional Info

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight

The Driftaways

Mon July 28
The Driftaways are a seven man reggae band hailing from St. Louis. Their E.P. Don't Hide is full of high energy jams and groovey improves that gives them a good time vibe. Download their song "Don't Hide"…

Dad Jr: Get Down. Hard.

Sun June 29

KDHX Recommends


Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys KDHX presents Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys at The Stage, July 31 at 8pm. Tickets available online.   Born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri, Folk remembers watching his Dad pick the country blues on a...


The Aching Hearts at Harvest Sessions 2014

The Aching Hearts at Harvest Sessions 2014 The Aching Hearts are the husband and wife duo of Ryan Spearman and Kelly Wells (host of Steam-Powered Radio on 88.1 KDHX), who recently released the CD "Just a Habit." Join them and KDHX for a morning of classic, old-time...


Discovery Series: Mandolin Orange

Discovery Series: Mandolin Orange KDHX presents Mandolin Orange as part of the Discovery Series on Wednesday August 6 at 7:30 p.m. The North Carolina-based duo combines bluegrass, rock and country, providing a modern take on age-old styles. Tickets available...

Online Users

4 users and 8210 guests online
Sign in with Facebook


Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook