OLD COLONY MEMORIAL – It’s Man of La Mancha at the Spire Center all this month, but the intimate seating and local connections make it more than a musical about the madness of idealism; it’s about a passion for theater as well.
At the premiere’s after-party a baby-faced, pink-cheeked “Pedro” – aka David Lynch – doesn’t look old enough to order a beer; an hour earlier he was a menacing, malevolent force.
“It was difficult to be rude, crass and mean,” Lynch explained with disarming honesty.
The barber also changed; on stage he is welcome comic relief to the madness of Don Quixote, but at the Malabar Brasserie that night he wore a blazer that literally sparkles. He’s the company’s costumer as well.
“I designed and put together all of the costumes in the last three weeks,” barber/costumer Brian Kenerson said with an exhausted smile.
This is a special bonus.
This is act three in a two act play, during which the actors of the company do their best to undercut the character traits they had, just moments before, worked so hard to convince their audience of during their time onstage.
Dulcinea is not, no surprise here, an unrepentant strumpet; she’s Bethany Lauren James, a serious actor with film and stage credits from New York City by way of Ohio.
“I really love telling that story,” James said at the after-party. “The journey she’s on and the choices she makes are wonderful to explore.”
The sniveling, hen-pecked innkeeper (and the dungeon’s governor) is performed by the well spoken managing director of the company, David Friday.
Most of the cast members play two roles, many three, others even add a stint as a horse or donkey. And lest we forget, everyone sings.
It’s a professional company that often hires actors from New York and L.A. but was founded by Derek Martin (he plays The Padre in this production) who hails from that well-known theatrical hot-spot Carver.
There are no windmills in Carver. Or are there?
To bring professional theater to downtown Plymouth is a kind of impossible dream that the Americana Theatre Company is working hard to make happen.
“This is our eighth year, and our slogan,” Company President Peter Martin said after the premiere last Saturday night, “is ‘stories that entertain and stories that matter.’ I don’t think you can do much better than ‘Man of La Mancha.’”
Jessie Sullivan, the company’s artistic director – who in this production also plays the Duke and Don Carrasco – says they go where they have to go to find the talent they need: California, Florida, and Kingston, Massachusetts.
Ruben Navarro, who is outstanding in the important role of Sancho Panza – Quixote’s exasperated squire – is a New York City based actor. Guitar-playing interns Jesse Winton and Nick Hancock are from William Jessup University in California.
For the role of Don Quixote, however, Americana went hyper local.
Former WBZ Channel 4 television news anchor Scott Wahle was the man of this production.
“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play many of the great musical theater roles written for men over the years.” Wahle said. “Quixote has been on my bucket list for a long time. It’s a beautifully written musical with a timeless story. I’m thrilled to tackle this iconic role with Americana Theatre Company.”
At Saturday night’s premiere Wahle, despite a few early technical difficulties, turned in an able performance that was skillfully buttressed by a deep cast.
That may be the real strength of this production of “Man of La Mancha” and of Americana Theatre Company itself: Every role and responsibility is capably handled. Those that act, also sing. Those that dance, also fight. Those that promote, also produce.
They don’t sell the tickets though. For that go to SpireCenter.org.
By Frank Mand