International director and dramaturge Robert McQueen makes his Stratford Festival debut at the helm of Man of La Mancha

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The heartrending musical Man of La Mancha

begins previews

 

May 8, 2014… International director and dramaturge Robert McQueen makes his Stratford Festival debut at the helm of Man of La Mancha. A mixture of romance, humour and tragedy, framed within a rich musical score featuring the timeless anthem “The Impossible Dream,” this epic musical begins previews on Thursday, May 8, at Stratford’s Avon Theatre.

 

Beloved on Broadway to the tune of four revivals and five Tony awards, Man of La Mancha follows the saga of Miguel de Cervantes, playwright, poet and tax collector, who finds himself imprisoned and awaiting trial by the Inquisition. When his fellow prisoners try to confiscate his few possessions, including the uncompleted manuscript of his most famous work, the novel Don Quixote, Cervantes defends his masterpiece by presenting it as a play. Transforming himself into the title character, and recruiting his fiercely loyal manservant along with other inmates to take on various roles, he plays out his sweeping story of a deluded would-be-knight who becomes obsessed by his idealistic belief that the wrongs of the world can be corrected.

 

Directing this classic tale is Mr. McQueen, whose work in musical theatre and opera has been recognized around the world. Among his many credits are productions with the Canadian Opera Company, Arizona Opera, Tokyo’s Galaxy Theatre and the Cambodian Living Arts centre in Phnom Pehn. He also served as Associate Director for the Broadway and national touring productions of Mamma Mia!

 

In staging Man of La Mancha, Mr. McQueen asserts that the play is a dramatization of a few hours in the life of Cervantes, as opposed to simply a musical adaptation of Don Quixote, as it is often described.

 

“While much of Cervantes’ military history is well documented – as a younger man he had been a soldier, injured during battle, captured and enslaved for five years – his full biography is largely a mystery,” says Mr. McQueen. “It was Dale Wasserman’s dream to delve into that mystery to create a play, an act of the imagination, that drew from Cervantes’ theatrical and literary life.

 

“Cast from amongst the cut-throats in whose company he currently finds himself, the stories the poet performs are improvised versions of the Don Quixote adventures found within his book. Through the enactment of these adventures, both author and character plumb to the core of life’s fundamental questions: Why am I here? What purpose does my life serve? How do I engage significantly in this relatively short time I am given?”

Inspired by this season’s theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge, Mr. McQueen explores what he sees as a central theme of the musical: the transforming power of the creative imagination.

 

“The madness of Cervantes is his imaginative drive,” says Mr. McQueen. “He must save his manuscript at all costs. His entire life’s opus is at stake, and the thought of its destruction is the thing that pushes his mind to the edge.”

 

Man of La Mancha is an extraordinary musical that, despite its darker elements, manages to be uplifting and inspiring, helping us to understand extreme behaviour as part of the human journey,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “I am thrilled to finally welcome Robert McQueen to Stratford and particularly thrilled to have him at the helm of this production. He has such a beautiful appreciation for the story. I think this will be something people will remember for years.”

 

Cervantes is played by Tom Rooney, with Robin Hutton as the wench Aldonza – whom Quixote transforms in his mind into the idealized damsel Dulcinea – and Steve Ross as his loyal sidekick Sancho Panza.

 

Artistic credits include Choreographer Marc Kimelman, Musical Director Franklin Brasz, Set Designer Douglas Paraschuk, Costume Designer Dana Osborne, Lighting Designer Kimberly Purtell, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle,Video and Projection Designer Sean Nieuwenhuis and Fight Director John Stead.

 

Written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, the original production of Man of La Mancha was staged by Albert Marre and produced by Albert W. Selden and Hal James.

Man of La Mancha Forum Highlights

 

The Stratford Festival Forum is a series of activities and events, including concerts, debates, talks, comedy and interactive presentations, that offer theatregoers a unique opportunity to delve further into the ideas and issues raised by the 2014 playbill and its theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge.

 

Themes related to Man of La Mancha will be explored through several Forum events, including: The Madness of Cervantes, in which Cervantes scholar Dr. Stephen Rupp exposes the tumultuous life of the author of Don Quixote with dramatic readings by Tom Rooney; Love, Loss and Lunacy, in which conductor and lecturer Marguerite Mullee examines how Man of La Mancha challenges society’s reality and considers how success can come from loss; and Knights Errant, in which Festival actors teach participants the basics of stage combat.

 

Sustaining support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and the T.R. Meighen Foundation. Support for the 2014 Forum is generously provided by Nandita & Julian Wise. Selected Forum events supported by Bell Let’s Talk.

 

Man of La Mancha opens on May 29 and runs until October 11. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

Support for the 2014 season of the Avon Theatre is generously provided by The Birmingham Family.

 

Stratford Direct, the daily return private bus service, now offers two routes: Toronto to Stratford and Detroit to Stratford. The Toronto bus costs $20 round trip, departing once daily from May 3 to 24 and September 23 to October 12, and twice daily between May 26 and September 21. The Detroit bus costs $40 round trip, with Tuesday, Friday and Saturday departures from June 3 to September 28. Both routes run on performance days only.

 

The Stratford Direct Presenting Sponsor is OLG. Support for Stratford Direct is generously provided by The Peter Cundill Foundation.

The 2014 season runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King Lear; Crazy for You; two versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Beaux’ Stratagem; Man of La Mancha; Alice Through the Looking-Glass; Hay Fever; King John; Mother Courage and Her Children; Antony and Cleopatra; Christina, The Girl King; and more than 200 events in The Forum.

 

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Tenorio, Brigand…………………………….            Matt Alfano

Anselmo……………………………………..            Matt Armet

Governor/Innkeeper…………………………            Shane Carty

Paco, Brigand, Inquisitor Priest……………..            Stephen Cota

Guard………………………………………….            Paul Duncan

Guard………………………………………..            Harry Edison

Padre…………………………………………           Sean Alexander Hauk

Aldonza………………………………………          Robin Hutton

Antonia, Brigand……………………………..          Kayla James

Jose, Brigand…………………………………          Galen Johnson

Understudy…………………………………..           Bonnie Jordan

Housekeeper, Brigand………………………..          Monique Lund

Fermina, Brigand Dancer……………………..          Ayrin Mackie

Swing………………………………………….         Chad McFadden

Captain of the Inquisition, Brigand.…………..         Marcus Nance

Pedro, Attendant to the Enchanter…………….        Cory O’Brien

Barber………………………………………….        Stephen Patterson

Romero…………..…………………………….        Kevin Ramessar

Maria……………………………………………        Kimberley Rampersad

Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote/.……………        Tom Rooney

Manservant/Sancho Panza……………………..        Steve Ross

Juan, Brigand, Attendant to the Enchanter…….       Jason Sermonia

Duke/Dr. Carrasco/Enchanter………………….        Shawn Wright

 

Artistic Credits

Director………………………………………..         Robert McQueen

Choreographer…………………………………        Marc Kimelman

Musical Director………………………………         Franklin Brasz

Set Designer……………………………………         Douglas Paraschuk

Costume Designer……………………………..         Dana Osborne

Lighting Designer……………………………..         Kimberly Purtell

Sound Designer………………………………..        Peter McBoyle

Video and Projection Designer………………..         Sean Nieuwenhuis

Fight Director………………………………….        John Stead

Producer……………………………………….         David Auster

Casting Director……………………………….         Beth Russell

Creative Planning Director…………………….        Jason Miller

Associate Conductor…………………………..        Shelley Hanson

Associate Fight Director………………………         Geoff Scovell

Assistant Director……………………………..         Sara-Jeanne Hosie

Assistant Choreographer………………………         Krista Leis

Assistant Set Designer…………………………        Nancy Anne Perrin

Assistant Costume Designer…………………..         Brandon Kleiman

Assistant Lighting Designers………………….         C.J. Astronomo, Jareth Li

Assistant Sound Designer……………………..         William Fallon

Dance Captain…………………………………        Matt Alfano

Fight Captain…………………………………..        Cory O’Brien

Stage Manager…………………………………        Maxwell T. Wilson

Assistant Stage Managers………………………        Kim Lott, Angela Marshall, Zeph Williams

Production Assistant…………………………..         Liz King

Production Stage Managers……………………        Julie Miles, Maxwell T. Wilson

Technical Director……………………………..         Elissa Horscroft

 

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Promotional photos for Man of La Mancha:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=25265

 

Headshots:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=14315

 

 

Ann Swerdfager

Publicity Director

 

Stratford Festival 55 Queen Street PO Box 520 Stratford ON | N5A 6V2

 

Box Office: Toll Free 1.800.567.1600 Local 519.273.1600

stratfordfestival.ca

 

2014 Season | April 21 to October 12

King Lear | Crazy for You | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | The Beaux’ Stratagem
Man of La Mancha | Alice Through the Looking-Glass | Hay Fever | King John
Mother Courage and Her Children | Antony and Cleopatra | Christina, The Girl King
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a chamber play

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