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December 09, 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.

Cleanliness aside, I was, for the most part, drawn in to Quixote’s world, where insanity seems like a good option. Faced with a reality that is difficult to comprehend, the title character, played to the hilt by Kevin Loreque, chooses dementia (“either the wisest madman or the maddest wiseman in the world”) to aid himself and his sidekick, Sancho Panza (the incomparable Jim Bray), in dealing with the harsh reality of man’s inhumanity to man. Bray, now in his fourth season at the FBP, is the King Midas of the theatre, since it would seem that whatever he touches turns to comic gold.

Inherent to this version of the story is the music and most people immediately think of Don Quixote’s mantra, “The Impossible Dream.” Admittedly, it is probably the most memorable tune, with the possible exception of “Aldonza’s Song” but in this production, I was thrilled to observe the on-stage presence of one of Forestburgh’s unsung heroes: the wildly talented guitarist, Coyote Anderson (www.myspace.com/jamesandersonakacoyote). A native of the region, Anderson spends most of his time in New York City honing his (already extremely well honed) craft, and the program informs that he “sets aside time each summer to come back to the Catskills and rock out at the playhouse.”

Coyote’s expertise with the instrument really enhanced this production, and I imagine that Pilar Milhollen (Aldonza), Ronald King (The Governor), Alexander Pimentel (The Padre) and the rest of the cast were as grateful as I that he was on stage throughout the entire show. Is it crazy that this was a highlight for me? Maybe, but it was only seeing the show after lo these many years, that I realized one of the reasons we leave the theatre humming “The Impossible Dream” is that it is reprised over and over until it becomes impossible to forget.

My teenage guest “didn’t get it” and that gave me pause. Is the show really as good as the hype, or are there one or two really good songs wrapped around a beautifully illustrated production? Either way, I’m still crazy for an evening of theatre and not sure that when push comes to shove, insanity isn’t a viable option when confronted with the alternative.