- Reporters Desk
By John Farrell
Man of La Mancha is the second offering of the new San Pedro Theatre Club. Its first, Cabaret, was extended three weeks after critical acclaim.
Man of La Mancha is an interesting, sometimes even compelling, production, but it also has more than a few weaknesses, perhaps the biggest of which is Don Quixote. Rocky Miller is not the gaunt knight that Quixote usually is. He simply doesn’t have the voice to carry the several songs with the brilliance they require.
The eight-piece orchestra doesn’t manage the music with the kind of aplomb they offered in Cabaret. But then again, the orchestra may not have had the rehearsal time, since that musical probably cut into their rehearsal time.
Director Drew Fitzsimmons does a great job of marshaling his forces and, if he can’t improve everyone’s singing, at least he gets some great performances from the secondary cast.
Michelle Zelina was exciting in Cabaret and she return here as Aldonza. She sings with a delicious and powerful voice.
Michael-Anthony Nozzi is perfect as Sancho Panza. Don Quixote’s squire, both in his singing and in his portrayal of the one person who understands Quixote.
Man of La Mancha, the big Broadway musical that was a huge hit when it opened more than 40 years ago, doesn’t have the best book in the world, but the music, when done properly, is more than enough to carry the show.
However, many fine songs weren’t done well, especially those that required several singers in harmony, like “Little Bird, Little Bird.”
There are plenty of great moments as well: Jazzy Jones as a Moorish dancer does a wonderful and sexy dance to the “Moorish dance,” and there are plenty of great performances: Peter Miller as the Padre is affecting, John Russell as the sympathetic innkeeper and Joan Perkins as his wife are fine and even a little complex.
Maybe Man of La Mancha will get better with practice. It’s still a good production, but definitely not as good as Cabaret. Given time, San Pedro Theatre Club is certain to have more hits.
Tickets are $45 to $55. Performances are at 8 p.m., Thursdays through Saturday at 8 p.m., and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 24