Review: Man of La Mancha, The Workshop in Halifax

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The Workshop commences its 2012-2013 season with a foray into the world of musicals, territory this theatre company doesn’t frequently tread.

And yet, with typically bold determination, they have selected Dale Wasserman’s Tony Award-winning Man of La Mancha, adapted from Miguel de Cervantes’s masterpiece, Don Quixote”

We descend into the Royal Prison of 16th Century Seville where Cervantes, playwright turned tax collector, is interned by The Inquisition after foreclosing on a monastery.

Hounded by the inmate’s intent on stealing his possessions, Cervantes defends his impromptu “trial” by staging a play within a play of the fabled, windmill-charging mad knight.

Grant Moorhouse performs the dual roles of the noble Cervantes with satisfying contrast to the touchingly-honourable buffoon, Don Quixote, his powerful singing voice more than a match for the principle song, The Impossible Dream.

Charlie Cornforth, the errant knight’s comic sidekick, Sancho, has a fidgety awkwardness and simple-minded charm akin to Norman Wisdom or Lee Evans, epitomised in the song, I Like Him”.

Amy Moorhouse as Aldonza/Dulcinea struts around the stage with fiery feminism characterised by the song, Its All The Same and with vulnerable sensitivity in What Does He Want of Me?

Edward Haigh as the eccentric governor/innkeeper earns special mention, as do Cameron Stott, Liam Parkin and Megan Masters, to name but a few.

Valuable support is delivered by the ensemble cast whose youthful on stage exuberance is at odds with their tattered garb and oppressive dungeon setting; a fine creation designed by Thomas Vickery.

A seriously-challenging musical, director Shane Gough and musical director Daniel Bath prise the best out of both cast and orchestra.

Occasionally rough around the edges, this is an admirable production not to be missed.