Seeing a classic musical outdoors on a warm summer night — what could be better? Add a great production, as is the case with PCPA’s excellent current show, Man of La Mancha, and you’ve got a recipe for theater bliss. Thanks to Mark Herrier’s expert direction, Michael Jenkinson’s imaginative choreography, and, above all, the two outstanding lead performances by David Studwell as Cervantes/Don Quixote and Julie Garnyé as Aldonza, this revival hits all the right notes.
The unit set with its big retractable staircase creates a sense of deep seclusion as the prisoners of the Inquisition follow Cervantes on a journey of imagination into the impossible dream of his famously deluded hero. Leo Cortez is earthy and funny in the indispensable role of Sancho Panza, and together with a large ensemble cast, including PCPA’s Andrew Philpot and Jenkinson, he weaves the patterns through which the heroism of the story’s central pair will emerge.
Garnyé gets Aldonza exactly right and has her resisting the Don’s idealizations all the way until the heartbreaking final scenes. Although it deserves all the attention it gets, there’s a lot more to this score than “The Impossible Dream,” and this production consistently delivers its many strong musical moments.