For more than four centuries, Miguel Cervantes’ story of Don Quixote, a madman who chased imaginary windmills, but believed in a world that was better than it really was, has entranced audiences.
On May 17, Aiken Community Playhouse will bring the musical version of the tale, Man of La Mancha, to the stage.
“It’s actually a play within a play,” said Jennifer Cudworth, the director of Man of La Mancha. “It’s a neat thing to see.”
In Man of La Mancha, while Cervantes, the playwright, is awaiting the Spanish Inquisition in a dungeon, he is put through a mock trial by his fellow prisoners. He tells them the tale of Don Quixote.
It may sound like a depressing premise for a play, but there are many lighthearted moments. Don Quixote’s sidekick and foil, Sancho Panza, played by Shawn Dingus, takes part in many of those comedic moments.
“I’m having a lot of fun with the role,” Dingus said. “It’s very comical, and I get to do a lot with it.”
But that’s not to say it’s all laughs. There are dark moments in the play such as the treatment of Aldonza, a prostitute, who Don Quixote thinks is a noble lady and calls “Dulcinea.”
“There are some really intense moments,” Dingus said.
Leading the cast is Richard Herzog, who has played the role of Don Quixote with other theater companies.
“When he sings Impossible Dream, it is just breathtaking. I’ve been thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him,” Cudworth said. Vanessa Cox, “who plays Aldonza, has done a lot with the Augusta Opera. Her reprise of Impossible Dream is something I’ve never heard before.”
Man of La Mancha will be presented at 8 p.m. May 18-19, 25-26 and June 1-2 and at 3 p.m. May 27 and June 2. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens 60 and older, $15 for students and $10 for children 12 and under.
For information, call (803) 648-1438 or visit www.aikencommunityplayhouse.com.