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Pulliam Review: ‘Man of La Mancha’ season’s finest musical, MAPA’s best in memory

February 7, 2013
By MICHAEL PULLIAM ( , For The Maui News

"Man of La Mancha" begins in silence with a certain nonchalance. One by one, woeful "prisoners" slowly enter. As the audience begins to notice them the pre-show murmuring subsides. The unusual choice by director David Johnston is quite brilliant, pulling the audience in slowly instead of the standard blackout followed by the roar of an overture. "Man of La Mancha" is not your usual musical. The wonderful set, designed by Caro Walker, is also better appreciated in this gradual, silent, somber beginning. Johnston has truly made this an ensemble musical as opposed to focusing entirely on the trio of primary characters. "La Mancha" is intended for each cast member to play multiple roles and be adept with precise harmonies (especially on "Little Bird, Little Bird"). Because of the intimacy of the Steppingstone Playhouse, if a single actor had been a weak link they would have stuck out like a sore thumb. At times the cast is just inches away from you, so watch your feet. The dream team of prisoners; David Negaard, Karen Gladden, Vinnie Linares, Kevin Lawrence, Ricky Jones, Osheyana Martinez, Phil Duss, Dylan Bode, Jeff Brackett, Steve Hatcher, Ted Hatcher, Jim Oxborrow, William Makozak, Kristi Scott and Lauren Olsen could easily be glossed over to focus on the three leads, but "La Mancha" is better appreciated if your eyes are constantly moving, drinking in the whole. Some of the finest moments in this poignant production are not the acting but the reacting and the emotion that is conveyed in silence by the ensemble.



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