HTC stages its first musical, ‘Man of La Mancha’

Dreaming The (Im)Possible Dream




Accord Treble Group will perform in Sag Harbor.

The Hampton Theatre Company in Quogue has presented everything from light drawing-room comedies to dark modern dramas, but in its 34-year history, it has never produced a fully-staged musical. Until now.

“Man of La Mancha,” the famed musical adaptation of the story of Don Quixote, will be the third play of the HTC’s 2019 season, opening on Thursday, March 21, at the Quogue Community Hall and running through April 7.

Tilting at windmills? Not according to Andrew Botsford, actor, writer, director, and president of the theater’s board of directors.

“All of us at HTC are tremendously excited about getting our first fully staged musical up and running in Quogue,” he said. “It’s not that we haven’t thought about doing it before; audiences have been asking us to do musicals almost since our founding 34 years ago. It’s just that the time is finally right. We could never commit to doing a musical if we didn’t believe we could do it at the level of excellence audiences have come to expect from the Hampton Theatre Company.”

He added, “We have a great cast, wonderful directors, a seasoned and brilliant musical director, and talented musicians, all working on one of the most beloved Broadway musicals of all time. It goes to show that no dream is impossible in the theater if you can get the right energy and the right people behind it.”

Inspired by the 17th-Century Miguel de Cervantes novel “Don Quixote,” the classic Broadway show — with book by Dale Wasserman, music by Joe Darion, and lyrics by Mitch Leigh — is widely considered one of the most enduring pieces of musical theatre since its opening, the source of one of the best-known songs in the Great American Songbook, “The Impossible Dream,” and winner of five Tony Awards in 1966.

Framed as a play within a play, “Man of La Mancha” presents Spanish writer Cervantes performing a play based on his novel to a group of prisoners awaiting a hearing.

The cast of “Man of La Mancha” features two HTC veterans: Matthew Conlon in the role of Cervantes/Quixote, and Jessica Howard doubling as the Housekeeper and the Innkeeper’s Wife. Playing Sancho, Rick Grossman is making his debut on the Quogue stage, reprising the role he played in the recent Broadway national tour of “Man of La Mancha.”

“Our impossible dreamer’s qualifications are stated as ‘brave, courteous, bold, generous, affable, and patient,’” said Conlon. “These timeless qualities may be more timely than at any time since ‘Man of La Mancha’ was first produced.”

Other actors taking their first roles with the Hampton Theatre Company are: Anthony Arpino (Innkeeper), Kyle Breitenbach (Muleteer), Andrew Gasparini (Barber/Muleteer), Michael Sean Jones (Muleteer), James M. Lotito Jr. (Carrasco), Joe Mankowski (Padre), Alyssa Marino (Fermina), Nora Moutrane (Antonia), and Elora Von Rosch (Aldonza).

Hampton Theatre Company’s vice president Edward Brennan and HTC artistic director Diana Marbury are the directors. “Staging this production has been a fun and unique challenge in our space,” Brennan acknowledged.

“The stage is deceptively smaller than you might realize, and moving 12 actors around on it creatively has been top of mind. It has taken some real planning prior to rehearsals starting,” he said.

Musical direction is by Amy Federico McGrath. Set design is by Sean Marbury, lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski, and costumes by Teresa LeBrun.

“It has been a pleasure taking over this project,” Diana Marbury said. “I love the universal and hopeful theme within this play. Of course, having a stable of actors who have committed fully to this journey is the icing on the cake.”

“Man of La Mancha” runs at the Quogue Community Hall from March 21 to April 7, with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 PM, Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2:30 PM. An additional matinee performance will be offered during the final weekend of the production, on Saturday, April 6, prior to the regular 8 PM performance.

The Hampton Theatre Company will again be offering special dinner and theater packages in collaboration with the Westhampton, Rogers Memorial in Southampton, Hampton Bays, and Quogue libraries at restaurants like 1 North Steakhouse and Stone Creek Inn. Offered in association with the Quogue Club at the Hallock House, a special lunch and theater package is available for the Saturday matinee on April 6. For information visit http://www.hamptontheatre.org or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

bridget@indyeastend.com