Man of La Mancha Review-Dreaming Impossible Dreams

James Harms as Don Quixote

Impossible dreams were achieved in Light Opera Works' production of Man of La Mancha at the Cahn Auditorium in Evanston on August 11th. Classic songs such as “The Impossible Dream” and “Dulcinea” filled the air and left audience members cheering for more adventures from the dreamer, Don Quixote.

James Harms and Cary Lovett

The story is a play within a play. Miguel de Cervantes (also the author of the classic novel by the same name) is put into prison as he waits for his fate, determined by the soldiers in the Spanish Inquisition. While in prison, Cervantes tells the story of Don Quixote (James Harms), a knight of has a big heart and is always trying to do what is right. Even though he is a certified as “mad,” he and his servant, Sancho Panza (Cary Lovett), give up their old lives and set out on big adventures, such as fighting giants and rescuing maidens. While stopping at an inn, Don Quixote discovers that he wants to have a lady to love and serve. He finds Aldonza (Colette Todd), who he affectionately refers to as Dulcinea. Don Quixote finds that his sweet Dulcinea is not being treated properly, so he strives to earn her love and respect. Meanwhile, his niece (Jordan Yentz) and her fiancée (Edward J. MacLennan) try to bring their uncle back to sanity and back to his old life. Don Quixote tries to tell his family and friends that dreams are worth achieving, even if they are a bit out of the ordinary.

Colette Todd and the ensemble in Man of La Mancha

Jordan Yentz, Bill Chamberlain and Yvonne Strumecki


This full stage production was quite spectacular! It had romance, adventure, scandal, intrigue—everything you could ask for in a show! I was on the edge of my seat, anxious to see where the plot would lead. Light Opera Works General Manager Bridget McDonough and Artistic Director Rudy Hogenmiller were the glue that helped the Light Opera Works team bring Cervantes’ novel to life. The set included several high drawbridges, recreating a rustic old jail cell, which easily converted into the inn with a few simple changes designed by Scenic Designer Adam L. Vaness. Since the sets were simple, the lighting designs by Andrew H. Meyers and costume designs by Jesus Perez, brought the time period to life. Thanks to the full orchestra conducted by Nyela Basney, I was humming and singing along to my favorites including “Dulcinea” and “The Impossible Dream,” the song in which Harms nearly received a standing ovation. Of course, the charming soundtrack had wonderful choreography to accompany it, choreographed by Stage Director/Choreographer Rudy Hogenmiller. Stage Manager Tom Campbell and Production Manager Katie Beeks were integral parts of the Light Opera Works Team Actors were staged as horses, prancing around, which greatly entertained the audience and the male company delightfully charmed the audience with their a capella songs. The Spanish guitars helped set the mood in the orchestra, but what truly made the show for me was the voices of Harms and Todd. Their ballads pulled at my heartstrings and made me truly feel for the emotions of their characters. Both were living their characters and it truly showed.

James Harms as Don Quixote achieves his impossible dream


Man of La Mancha was a night to remember! The exciting storyline, classic songs, and amazing acting will leave you wanting to hear “The Impossible Dream” one more time. I was definitely inspired and left with a more adventurous spirit and numerous dreams left to conquer. Man of La Mancha will be at the Cahn Auditorium now through August 26. Visit www.lightoperaworks.com for tickets and times or call (847)920-5360.


Images by Rich Foreman

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