Man of La Mancha is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. Since its premiere at a Greenwich Village theatre in 1965, when it won a Tony for Best Musical, it has had four Broadway revivals and numerous productions all over the world. Its endurance is based on its gorgeous score and its 400 year-old classic story of the dreamer, Don Quixote, who imagines only good and gallantry in a dark, ugly world.
Man of La Mancha is manifestly a show which tries to convert. It is not a simple narrative, though its main functional device is story-telling. It seeks to do no less than convince. It is as close to polemic as musical theatre gets. It must succeed in doing this, or it has not worked. Capital Rep’s new production of this classic musical is fully professional. It is well-cast, musically inventive, and consistently well-paced. Kevin McGuire in the title role has more than a touch of Falstaff in his portrayal. He seemed almost bewildered as Cervantes in prison, and then by turns, tired, rueful, and very human, portraying Don Quixote. He did not hog the stage; often he was the quietest presence on the stage. His singing did not set out to command, but to move. I could imagine a more bravura performance, but Mr. McGuire’s was direct and convincing.