Sunday, October 21

Theater Review: Beef and Boards: Man from La Mancha

Beef and Boards, Indianapolis, steps out of its goody-two-shoe image to bring the dark comedic production of Man of La Mancha to the north-side stage. Also taking things up a notch the powers that be brought in Disney film talent Richard White. 

White grabs the audience's attention as soon as he steps onto the stage and doesn't let go. Smoothly doubling as both Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quijote de la Mancha, awaiting his fate in the depths of a castle prison, and Alonso Quijano, slipping from the book's pages into the dismal prison. Set during the Spanish Inquisition, Cervantes acts out the story of Quijano, whose greatest desire is to be knighted as Don Quixote, rescue lovely maidens and provide chivalrous services. Unfortunately, he has so become immersed in the life he wishes to lead, his grasp on reality has slipped more than a little. White's soothing baritone brings joy to "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)," providing goosebumps to more than one person, I am certain.

Sidekick and faithful servant, Sancho Panza, is portrayed delightfully by Eddie Curry, bringing comedic relief to the tale. In fact, this story line and character remind me of another Curry role many years ago ~ Shipwrecked ~ (read review here).

Bar wench/prostitute/rape victim Aldonza/Dulcinea is brought to life by Erica Hanrahan-Ball. As Quixote's love interest, Hanrahan-Ball tries too hard in the beginning, seeming to try to outdo her male counterpart, bringing a sharpness and unnecessary volume to early songs.
She shines brightest when she shares a softer side to the character, allowing her vocals and acting chops to complement the others on stage, rather than compete.

Portraying Innkeeper, and reluctant knight-bestower, Chuck Caruso brings a droll humor to the role, drawing the audience into his angst of being forced to play along with the delusions of White's Quixote. The pair were absolutely harmonious with their interactions.

Special Note: Costumes by Jill Kelly and set design by Michael Layton are to be applauded as well as the cast of talented performers.

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards breaks its own barriers with the production style and level of talent in its version of Man of la Mancha ~ well done.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a fine-living, travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, performing arts, wine and restaurant critic. She also is a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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