Tilting at Windmills in Quogue

"Man of La Mancha" at HTC
Matthew Conlon, Michael Sean Jones, Andrew Gasparini, and Kyle Breitenbach in rehearsal for “Man of La Mancha” at the Hampton Theatre Company. Tom Kochie

“Man of La Mancha,” the classic 1965 musical that ran for more than 2,000 performances on Broadway, won five Tony Awards, and has been produced in no fewer than 10 foreign languages, including Bengali and Korean, will open at the Quogue Community Hall today and run through April 7. The production is the first fully staged musical in the 34-year history of the Hampton Theatre Company.

Based on “Don Quixote,” Miguel de Cervantes’s 17th-century epic novel, “Man of La Mancha” is widely considered one of the most enduring pieces of musical theater. 

Framed as a play within a play and set during the Spanish Inquisition, it opens with Cervantes in prison, awaiting trial. When his fellow prisoners attempt to take his belongings, including his manuscript, Cervantes proposes a trial in which he will re-enact the story of the manuscript and thereby prove its merit. Cervantes plays the role of Quixote, who with his squire, Sancho Panza, takes to the road in search of goodness and innocence in a dark and despairing world.

The play was adapted from Dale Wasserman’s 1959 teleplay, “I, Don Quixote.” Mr. Wasserman wrote the book, Joe Darion composed the music, and Mitch Leigh wrote the lyrics. Among its memorable songs are “The Impossible Dream,” “Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote),” and “A Little Gossip.”

The play opened in November 1965 at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre in Greenwich Village and moved to the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway in March 1968. The original production won Tony Awards for best musical, best composer and lyricist, best actor in a musical (Richard Kiley, who reprised the role in the 1972 and 1977 Broadway revivals), best scenic design, and best direction of a musical.

The cast of “Man of La Mancha” features two HTC veterans: Matthew Conlon in the role of Cervantes/Quixote, and Jessica Howard doubling as the housekeeper and the innkeeper’s wife. Rick Grossman is making his debut on the Quogue stage as Sancho Panza, reprising the role he played in the recent Broadway national tour. 

Other actors taking on their first roles with the company are Anthony Arpino, Kyle Breitenbach, Andrew Gasparini, Michael Sean Jones, James M. Lotito Jr., Joe Mankowski, Alyssa Marino, Nora Moutrane, and Elora Von Rosch.

Edward A. Brennan, the company’s vice president, and Diana Marbury, its artistic director, are the directors. Musical direction is by Amy Federico McGrath, set design by Sean Marbury, lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski, and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

“Man of La Mancha” will be performed on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. An additional matinee performance will take place on April 6. Special dinner and theater packages are available. Tickets are $40, $35 for senior citizens (except Saturdays), $30 for those under 35, and $20 for students under 21. More information can be found and tickets purchased at hamptontheatre.org.

Elora Von Rosch and Matthew Conlon rehearsed a scene from “Man of La Mancha,” which will begin its run at the Quogue Community Hall tonight. Tom Kochie