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Man of La Mancha

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Man of La Mancha – La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy/Rigby Entertainment’s current production – began on Broadway in 1965, ran for 2,238 performances, and earned five Tony Awards.

But it started in the seventeenth century as a novel titled Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes. Three centuries later, in 1959, playwright Dale Wasserman (who also adapted Ken Kesey’s book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, to the stage) wrote a teleplay inspired by Cervantes’s story. It was called I, Don Quixote. Wasserman later teamed up with Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh to create a stage musical based on Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Darion’s lyrics and Leigh’s music, combined with Wasserman’s book, resulted in one of the mainstays of modern day musical theater.

Now Man of La Mancha, under Glenn Casale’s saber-sharp direction, Jeff Rizo’s full-bodied musical direction, and Patti Colombo’s rich choreography arrives at full gale theatrical force. Add to this storm of creativity the formidable performing talents of Broadway veteran Davis Gaines in the lead roles of Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote, and this staging of Mancha is a sure-fire, star-powered hit.

The plot unfolds in the 1500s at a Spanish prison during the Inquisition. An impoverished storyteller, Miguel Cervantes, is condemned to the dreaded dungeon, where his fellow convicts inveigle to steal Cervantes’s only possessions and destroy his freshly completed novel.

In order to rescue his book and save his life, Cervantes (the character) enacts a play that tells of the misadventures of Don Quixote. The other inmates are easily immersed in Cervantes’s vivid imagineering and become characters in this play that is placed within the musical.

Along the way in this phantasmagorical journey, Don Quixote comes upon his lady love – the one he claims is Dulcinea, though her actual name is Aldonza (a fiery Nikki Crawford). And, although Aldonza is but an unkempt, yet quite sultry, kitchen wench, Don Quixote calls her the “sweet sovereign of my captive heart.” After all, placing idealism over practicality is the flaw of Cervantes’s alter-ego, Don Quixote.  Even while Aldonza resists Don Quixote’s chivalries and scorns the moniker – Dulcinea – given her by the infatuated Don Quixote, it is she who ends up most transformed by Don Quixote’s noble advances and courtly love.

Moreover, Don Quixote’s best friend and devoted sidekick, Sancho Panza (a cuddly Roland Rusinek) is another manifestation of the strange and ethereal power of Don Quixote’s presence and charisma. Sancho’s song, “I Really Like Him,” is a sweet tribute to Don Quixote and a winning interpretive moment for Rusinek. But it is the show’s signature song, "The Impossible Dream," sung with much emotion by the charming Gaines that’s certain to bring teardrops to the eyes of theatergoers.

In two-acts and nearly two-dozen song-and-dance numbers, this Man of La Mancha is loaded with spectacle, as well as dramatic and poetic complexities.  What’s more,  "The Impossible Dream," is an apt description of the tasks and rigors required to mount such a huge and intricate production.

Kudos to the McCoy/Rigby Entertainment stage-crafting team, including Stephen Gifford, scenic design; Julie Ferrin, sound engineering;  Leon Wiebers, costuming; and to the nineteen devoted member cast.

“Man of La Mancha” continues at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts – 14900 La Mirada Boulevard, in the city of La Mirada – through June 25. For reservations, dial (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310.For schedules, further information, and online ticketing, visit



Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.