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reviewed by Adam Crowe

On a Sunday evening, most small business owners are likely watching football or enjoying a quiet evening before heading back into the work week. But not Doug Stark. Stark spends Sunday greeting his audience at Beef & Boards Dinner Theater.  An Indianapolis institution, Beef & Boards often appears to be a well oiled machine. Seeing Stark reminded me that not all the work is done backstage . . . or in the kitchen. And in all the years that Stark has been producing at Beef & Boards, presenting hundreds of plays and musicals, this is the first time they have presented Man of La Mancha.

Written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh and Lyrics by Joe Darion, Man of La Mancha is based on Miguel Cervante’s “Don Quixote”. The musical tells the story through the device of a play within a play. At the outset, Cervantes is being held by the Spanish Inquisition and in order to appease his fellow prisoners, spins the tale of Alonso Quijano, an old gentleman who has read so many books of chivalry and thought so much about injustice that he has lost his mind and set out to be a Knight, renamed Don Quixote. The adventures of Don Quixote make up the bulk of the story, with Cervantes casting a spell over his fellow prisoners, even as he himself heads to interrogation as the musical ends.

Eddie Richard

Eddie Curry (Sancho Panza) and Richard White (Don Quixote) in a scene from Beef and Boards’ “Man of La Mancha”

Man of La Mancha features a beautiful score of Spanish influenced music, including the classic songs “The Impossible Dream” and “Dulcinea”. Terry Woods and his talented orchestra are in fine form and I especially enjoyed Chris Tucker’s terrific acoustic guitar playing. The Cast is uniformly delightful and features Richard White as Cervantes/Quixote. White has quite a resume, including voicing Gaston in the original Disney feature “Beauty and the Beast”. He is joined by Beef & Boards regular Eddie Curry, as the delightful sidekick Sancho Panza. Erica Hanrahan-Ball rounds out the leading players as the tortured Aldonsa, re-christened Dulcinea by Don Quixote. All three give performances of depth and pathos. These strong leads are joined by over a dozen actor/singers playing multiple roles. Every cast member excels. Together, performers and musicians combine to cast their own spell on the audience. I was enchanted.

Erica

Erica Hanrahan-Ball as Aldonsa in a scene from Beef and Boards’ “Man of La Mancha”

Beef & Boards theatrical offerings are usually on the lighter side. Man of La Mancha is a departure, insofar as it incorporates some of Cervantes’ tale’s darker turns. I found it a refreshing change of pace and thoroughly enjoyed seeing this rich and layered show in such a beautiful and professional production. I must also mention that the show is beautifully staged and designed as well. Michael Layton’s set and Ryan Koharchik’s lighting transformed the theater’s intimate space at every turn. I’m always pleased to see an often overlooked classic get a strong production, and Beef & Boards delivers with Man of La Mancha. Make room in your busy Fall schedule to catch this stirring show.

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre is located at 9301 Michigan Road on Indy’s Northwest side. Tickets may be purchased by calling (317) 872-9664. Man of La Mancha performs Tuesdays through Sundays through November 18th.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry
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