Man of La Mancha on Elizabeth Stewart's Art Talk radio show on KZSB AM
Scott White, Laura Dekkers, Marty Babayco and Stuart Crowner.
The musical “Man of La Mancha” is coming to the Ojai Art Center Theater (OACT) for five weekends beginning Sept. 7, bringing its timely theme and inspiration with it.
OACT artistic director Richard Camp is the man responsible for bring “The Man” to Ojai. “A year ago, I had a dream. After inspiring director Marty Babayco with that dream, I approached Scott White — who has the most mellifluous voice. Without telling him my intention,
I asked what role he has always wanted to play but hasn’t. He immediately said, ‘Don Quixote.’ After my goosebumps subsided, I shared this with Marty, who then put together a spectac- ular cast and crew. And here we are!”
Babayco said he was touched by the play’s central philosophy. “Cervantes makes it clear that dream- ing the impossible dream is the only logical choice we have, so we tilt at windmills,” Babayco explained. “The story still resonates today, con- trasting captivity versus freedom; love versus violence; and hope versus death, re- minding us to ‘Try, when our arms are too weary to reach the unreachable star.’”
Playwright Dale Wasserman was intrigued with the Quixote character but knew the 915-page book was too enormous to be made into
a play, so he made it Cervantes’ story. “I should like it noted that I am not, nor ever have been, an Hispanic scholar. I am a playwright, one of whose works, ‘Man of La Mancha,’ is enjoying performances in some 40 languages, and which seems to have gone into theatrical history as the first truly successful adaptation of the novel ‘Don Quixote.’ I consider this an unfortunate impression. ‘Man of La Mancha,’ strictly speaking, is not an adaptation of ‘Don Quixote’ at all. It is a play about Miguel de Cervantes.”
Producer Stuart Crowner said he admires Wasserman’s re-focusing of the story. “I saw the original Broadway production of ‘La Mancha’ in New York with Rich- ard Kiley and Joan Diener and it was visually and emo- tionally stunning. I can see why it won five Tonys —including Best Musical — and ran for 2,350 performances. Richard, Marty, executive producer Joan Kemper and I are pleased to bring this magnificent show to Ojai.”