Throw Back Thursday – Man of La Mancha (1996)

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To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
And to run where
The brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
And to love, pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This week’s Throw Back Thursday is our 1996 production of Man of La Mancha. In a time when we are prisoners in our own homes, when there is unjust for so many, there is Don Quixote. A knight for the downtrodden, a man who recognizes the value in all people regardless of social standing or worldview– one that must take risks in order to live their authentic life and to help other people.


FROM KIM BENESH (ALDONZA)

My friend and director for La Mancha, Chad Larabee thought it would be fun to have me read for the part of the barber since I was a hairstylist.

I really wanted a shot at Aldonza.

Usually leading parts, in the older musicals, were written for a soprano voice, this one was not.

Aldonza was tough, rough around the edges, with a honest heart and a great solo song that told of her difficult past. I really wanted to play that part.

So, after I read for the barber, at the end of auditions, Chad asked if anyone wanted to read for anything else. I slowly raised my hand and asked if there was enough time for me to read for Aldonza. I did. And I got the part opposite Lyle Lichty.

Aside from literally falling on my face due to a slippery rehearsal floor, (yep, I landed directly on my left cheekbone) I had the great gift of being sung to by one of the best baritone voices in the area.

Smooth like chocolate. Lyle was born to play that part.

Bill Thompson was cast as Sancho Pansa. I didn’t know this at the time, but  Bill is  a very accomplished poet. Sancho was in charge of writing Don Quixote’s poems and as an opening night gift,  Bill wrote me a beautiful poem on parchment that I still have to this day.

I loved being in that show. It was so full of heart and love.  I felt so at home playing Aldonza and the cast/crew was so talented.

Chad, who is a professional director in NY now, found a place briefly with MVLCT where he could really stretch his directing and design skills at a grass-roots level. What he did, with no money, amazed all of us then and for productions to come.

This show has a special place in my heart. It’s been a joy to remember it again.


FROM CHAD LARABEE (DIRECTOR)

Man of La Mancha was my first show in Mount Vernon, and I absolutely fell in love with the community and everyone affiliated with the organization.

One of my favorite memories occurred during auditions when someone wanted to audition, but the accompanist hadn’t arrived yet.

Without missing a beat, Tom Klaver, our phenomenal music director, picked up a tuba and proceeded to accompany the slightly confused  actor. I never would have believed it, but the tuba proved to be a very versatile instrument.

Working with Jay Gunn for the first time was a real treat. Although, I remember initially being intimidated by Jay, that quickly faded as we launched into rehearsals.

I learned a lot about theatre working with Jay, and was grateful for his friendship.

We had a very collaborative rehearsal process. Our cast was ridiculously talented, Barb designed beautiful costumes, and Tom put together a really impressive orchestra, it really was a wonderful experience.



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