Man of La Mancha
Photo Credit: Matt Hardy
Town and Gown Players has become a haven for musical lovers in recent years, cleverly balancing their two musicals each season between old classics (Carousel, Oklahoma) and the quirky or modern (The Rocky Horror Show, Evil Dead)… and doing them all well. With Jonathan Sparks as director, there’s every reason to expect the same level of quality from Man of La Mancha, which won five Tonys in 1966 and features the famous Broadway standard, “The Impossible Dream.”
It’s a musical theater classic, adapted from an original teleplay that was based on the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes. It begins with Cervantes himself, played by the witty Josh Darnell (often seen in lead roles in T&G musicals), in prison facing an Inquisition trial along with his manservant, played by Timothy Swain (a newcomer to T&G).
A play within the play is Cervantes’ defense, and it’s acted out by himself as the quirky dreamer Don Quixote, his manservant as Quixote’s sidekick/squire Sancho Panza, and the other prisoners as characters in his play of imagined knight errantry, such as love interest Aldonza/Dulcinea, played by Margot Hitchcock.
There are familiar faces you love to see in Athens musicals, including Bekah Lee (Antonia), Don Smith (Padre) and Mitch Clayton (Pedro), plus new-to-T&G-talent like Jordan Richey (Maria), who played leading roles with Oconee Youth Playhouse and will, it is to be hoped, appear more on other area stages now that she’s a UGA student-to-be.
Remember the lesson we learned from October’s RENT: There’s no day but today, and the venue only seats 120 at a time. So get your tickets for Man of La Mancha today before they sell out, since the recent history of T&G musicals indicates that sellouts will happen with this one, too.
Man of La Mancha (by Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh) is presented by Town & Gown Players at the Athens Community Theatre June 5–6 and 11–13 at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees June 7 and 14. Tickets are $18, $15 for students/seniors/members and available at 706-208-8696 or townandgownplayers.org.
Also at Town and Gown: A Wine Tasting in the Garden, June 10 at 6 p.m. They’ll have five wines paired with hors d’oeuvres at this fundraiser celebrating the unveiling of the next season. While you are in T&G’s Arcadia Memorial Garden, you should also raise a glass in memory of Jerry Keane (1927–2015), a founding member of Town and Gown Players who was a WWII vet, radio announcer, entrepreneur, community volunteer, singer, actor and director. Tickets are $25 and available via townandgownplayers.org.
The Comedy of Errors
It’s an unusual production, but one that happens every summer (though every alternate summer most of it happens in Italy, where the students study abroad and perform): A UGA professor (Ray Paolino) casts a Shakespeare play from whatever students, theater majors and non-majors alike, have registered to take a class in performing Shakespeare. The students have three weeks to put the show together using whatever props, costumes and set pieces they can find from their own closets or the closets in the Fine Arts Building, home of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies. It’s a challenge worthy of—and similar to—conditions Shakespeare’s own company would have encountered when his plays were new.
This summer it’s The Comedy of Errors, one of the Bard’s funniest comedies. Antipholus of Syracuse (played by Christopher Stalcup) visits Ephesus with his servant Dromio (played by Hannah Klevesahl). The pair are soon mistaken for their long-lost twins, Antipholus of Ephesus (Tom Von Dohlen) and Dromio of Ephesus (Stephanie Murphy), by various Ephesians, such as the local Antipholous’ wife, Adriana (Laura Crawford).
Much silliness ensues, of course. It’s your last chance to catch soon-to-be MFA acting graduate Stephanie Murphy, whose Beatrice in University Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing was so much fun in April, along with theater majors from seniors to freshmen and other students from around campus.
There’s also a chance to see a performance for free in the beautiful UGA Founders Garden in between the two Cellar Theatre performances. You can even summon the spirit of a football game day and bring your own on-campus tailgate-style picnic (and mosquito repellant) to the show.
The Comedy of Errors (by William Shakespeare) is presented by UGA Department of Theatre and Film Studies in the Cellar Theatre June 2 and 4 at 8 p.m. with a free performance in the UGA Founders Garden June 3 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the Cellar Theatre shows are $5, cash only, at the door before the show. For more information, visit drama.uga.edu.
It’s a sweet, funny twist on thwarted teenage romance, with neighbors at war over a garden wall that doesn’t prevent a romance between the boy and girl next door but instead promotes it… and the romance is on a collision course with reality. The Arts!Oglethorpe version has an additional twist of its own: Instead of fathers at odds over property lines, this time we get to see mothers, played by Kathey Williamson and Stephanie Tingler. The girl is played by Claire Korzekwa; Sam Hopkins, who was fantastic in Town and Gown’s RENT this fall, plays the boy. Bryan Shaw, who has performed in many musicals (including The Fantasticks at Town and Gown) in a variety of theaters in Athens in past years, brings significant experience to the role of El Gallo. If you’ve never seen this play before, or even if you have, this production looks like a good one to catch. The Fantasticks is always a charmer.
The Fantasticks (by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt) is presented by Arts!Oglethorpe at the historic Crawford School Jun. 12–13 and 18–20 at 7:30 p.m., with a 3 p.m. matinee Jun. 14. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door and available at the Oglethorpe Echo in Lexington, at 706-354-1339 or artsoglethorpe.org.