Joey Coté

Don Quixote: a man for all seasons

Lakewood Theatre's revival of "Man of La Mancha" injects some fresh hopefulness into a season of cynicism

Some days it’s easier to roll up the carpet, wipe the twinkle from your eye, and put any hope you may have out to the curb. There will always be an abundance of opportunities to take a turn to the cynical, election cycle or not. This year, however, the better bet is not to brush up on your Thomas More and Utopia, but to take in a little Cervantes: Lakewood Theatre Company has brought back the 1964 musical Man of La Manchaand is making the case for dreamers everywhere.

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A little background hints at why this half-century-old Broadway show remains so familiar and deeply loved. The tale traces all the way back to 1605, when Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, the inspiration for Man of La Mancha, was published.

Leif Norby (left), Joey Corté, and Pam Mahon in Lakewood's "La Mancha." Photo: Triumph Studios

Leif Norby (left), Joey Corté, and Pam Mahon in Lakewood’s “La Mancha.” Photo: Triumph Studios

Miguel de Cervantes was in a hustle to make a buck near the end of his life: it had been hard and cruel, with one obstacle after another; never did any fair winds of fortune blow his way. He was a 16th century jack-of-all-trades who failed most of his life at being a poet, playwright, soldier, assistant to a cardinal, and tax collector. Like many authors, he was more celebrated after his death than while he was alive. He was imprisoned by pirates in Algiers, and in his darkest of hours he was a victim of the Inquisition: somewhere in his brilliant veins coursed some Jewish blood. He had everything to win, as he had nothing left to lose, when he began writing about Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza.

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