Spring theater production, “Man of La Mancha,” opens April 16

BEMIDJI, Minn. (March 31, 2010) — Dale Wasserman’s “Man of La Mancha,” a play-within-a-play illustrating Miguel De Cervantes’ Don Quixote, opens for five performances by the Bemidji State University theatre program on Friday, April 16.

The run begins a 7:30 p.m. opening curtain, and continues Saturday, April 17, and Friday and Saturday, April 23-24, also with 7:30 p.m. opening curtains. The production will close Sunday, April 25, with a 2 p.m. matinee performance. The play will be held on the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex Main Stage on the Bemidji State campus.

“Man of La Mancha” begins with the imprisonment of Miguel de Cervantes by the Spanish Inquisition. Thrown with all of his possessions into a dark prison to await the Inquisitors, Cervantes and his faithful servant find themselves set upon by the other inmates. This group of criminals and outcasts organize an underworld trial, and Cervantes must surrender his possessions if he loses. He chooses not to surrender a prized manuscript, “The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha,” and must defend it before “The Governor,” leader of the prisoners.

Cervantes’ defense takes the form of a play which sees him take the role of Don Quixote. His performance pulls in the prisoners, bringing laughter and tears while transforming their world from one of suffering and pessimism to hope. In the end, they all understand the need for Don Quixote’s “impossible dream.”

“Man of La Mancha” opened Off-Broadway at the Anta Washington Square Theatre on Nov. 22, 1965. The production was a critical success; in March of 1968 it moved to Broadway, where it continued a run which would eventually reach 2,328 performances. “Man of La Mancha” won five Tony Awards become the third-longest running musical of the 1960s.

Bemidji State’s production of “Man of La Mancha” will be directed by Patrick Carriere, assistant professor of theater and communication arts. Scenery is designed by Ellen Jones, assistant professor of theater, with lighting by Thomas Skime, a freshman in theater from Bemidji, and Benjamin Eng, a sophomore in business administration from Eagan, Minn.

The role of Cervantes/Don Quixote will be played by Jeremiah Liend. His servant will be played by Eric Benson, a senior in music/liberal arts from Duluth, Minn. Kirsten Wade, a senior in theater from Bemidji, plays the role of the Governor.

Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for students, children and senior citizens. BSU students are admitted free with a valid student ID.

“Man of La Mancha” is intended for audiences of high-school age and above and features some adult themes.

Tickets are available in the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex box office, located in Bangsberg 101 on the BSU campus, beginning Monday, April 5. The box office is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 2-4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For more information, please contact Patrick Carriere at the Bemidji State University Department of Humanities at (218) 755-3901.