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December 08, 2016
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I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’

The cast of “Man of La Mancha” at the Forestburgh Playhouse.

July 7, 2011

Words to live by—and yet, I gave it a pretty good shot during the last week, bitchin’ up a storm. The endless rain worked my nerves, in conjunction with the still-aching rib, and I allowed the weather to make me a bit crazy. The intermittent showers had me a little “scattered” as I rearranged plans constantly and experienced some minor difficulties going with the flow.

I insisted that the weather was responsible for my bad mood and told everyone within earshot that it was driving me ‘round the bend—but of course, I kept driving. The clouds parted briefly as I heaved myself into the truck (complaining), keeping my eyes peeled for deer (they’re everywhere!) and made my way through the drizzle toward Forestburgh (FBplayhouse.org) to check out “Man of La Mancha” at the Forestburgh Playhouse (FBP).

I hadn’t seen the show in years, but it all came back to me as I settled in to let the musical, written by Dale Wasserman (with music and lyrics by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion) wash over the audience and transport us to a time when crazy was a way of life. Based on the Cervantes story of “Don Quixote,” La Mancha is one of those shows that focuses on a particularly ugly time in history (in this case, the Spanish Inquisition) and adds music to make it seem somehow more palatable (think “Les Miz” or “Evita”).

I’m not sure that this is a bad way to study history, albeit a little gussied up. I invited a teenager to join me, along with her parents, and discovered that none of them were familiar with the story. Until that moment, I was under the impression that “Don Quixote” was required reading in school, but for something completely different, I was wrong. Call me crazy.

The show itself was beautiful to look at. Director Edward Juvier had (IMHO) a firm grasp on reality when working with scenic designer Tim Bariaux, who created an atmosphere that drew me in to the dreamy world that the characters inhabit. The costumes and lighting (by Ashleigh Poteat and Michael O’Connor, respectively) further enhanced the production, although the boys appeared much filthier than the girls. They all share a dungeon prison, but it seemed as if the ladies had access to showers and laundry facilities that the men were unaware of.