Arts and Entertainment

Waldorf middle schoolers to open ‘Man of La Mancha’

Alyssa Woodbury plays Don Quixote and Aidan Josephs-Honnold is Sancho Panza in the Whidbey Island Waldorf School production of  “Man of La Mancha.” - Photo courtesy of Sheila Weidendorf
Alyssa Woodbury plays Don Quixote and Aidan Josephs-Honnold is Sancho Panza in the Whidbey Island Waldorf School production of “Man of La Mancha.”
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Sheila Weidendorf

An ensemble of youths takes on some heady themes of the human condition, and they sing their hearts out while doing it.

“Man of La Mancha,” a rousing musical tale of truth, courage and transformation, will be presented by the middle school students of the Waldorf School in Clinton this month.

This remarkable show is one of the great theater successes of the 20th century.

For weeks the middle school students at the Waldorf School have been learning lines, blocking scenes, planning costumes, helping with sets and exploring their characters as they prepare to bring this extraordinarily gripping musical to audiences, said musical director Sheila Weidendorf.

“At first glance (or first listen, as the case may be) this play is easy to love,” Weidendorf said.

“The characters — whether you love them or revile them — embody a wide range of human possibilities and frailties. The music is almost ridiculously catchy; hence these last weeks of, ‘I am I, Don Quixote’ being sung from every corner of campus — and bathroom, bedroom, car and walk on the beach, if you’re part of my family,” she added.

Alyssa Woodbury, a 14-year-old eighth-grader, shares the role of Don Quixote with Rachel Arand.

“I’ve always loved this play, and it’s so much fun to be this character because he’s kind of insane,” Alyssa said.

And how does she manage to play an insane old man?

“I think about it a lot. I have a lot of people helping me with the character, and I feel he just comes to me while I’m in action. I live the part, and it just comes naturally,” she said.

But Weidendorf said there is much more to the play than catchy tunes and interesting characters.

One of the central themes of the play is: What is true?

Truth, as the play and musical score communicate, is often found, conjured or created, she said.

The musical theater piece “Man of La Mancha” by Dale Wasserman is adapted from Wasserman’s teleplay “I, Don Quixote.” It tells the story of the “mad” knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition.

This play-within-a-play, based on Miguel de Cervantes 17th century masterpiece, “Don Quixote,” is a poignant story of a dying old man whose impossible dream takes over his mind. It is Cervantes’ dream of justice which, in the end, is “Everyman’s” dream.

“Whether facing the Inquisition or the condescension of co-workers, this play brings to us the most ‘normal’ of people facing his lot in the thick of humanity, struggling to find and maintain integrity sometimes

in the face of great odds,” Weidendorf said.

“Where many see filth and disposability, one man sees beauty and purity and, hence, another person finds a spark of possibility within herself,” she added.

A winner of five Tony Awards in 1965, the musical has been revived four times on Broadway, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theater. Its signature song, “The Impossible Dream,” has become an American standard.

Other songs from the show, including “It’s All the Same,” “Dulcinea,” “I’m Only Thinking of Him,” “I Really Like Him” and “Little Bird,” are numbers which have been said to remain in one’s mind and soul well after the curtain closes.

The ensemble of middle school students has bonded over the play, and Alyssa said it has been an experience she won’t forget soon.

“It’s really fun because we’ve been together at the Waldorf School for so long. It’s more kind of like a family working on the same thing. We’re getting really close because, with theater, it’s easier to get to know somebody’s real self,” Alyssa explained.

The cast includes  Blake Deilke, Skyler Everest, Aurora Faith-Feyma, Allison Graeser, Maya Hard-Lucker, Jecoliah Lindstrom, Skye Maguire, Liam Sherman, Margaret Boram, Mariah Crawford, Eve Dunkley, Adam Hess, Terra Huey, Peter Jacobs, Nicholas Johnson, Aidan Josephs-Honnold, Abra Lindstrom, Troy Marklin, Rasmus Oxenvad, Rachael Arand, Olivia Dunkley, Elohim Johnston, Vada Thomas and Alyssa Woodbury.

“Man of La Mancha” will be performed at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, April 8, 9, 15 and 16 in the Performance Pavilion at the school. The pavilion is outdoors; dress accordingly. A suggested donation is $5.

Call Weidendorf, also the enrollment director, at 341-5686, ext. 12 for more information.

Whidbey Island Waldorf School is at 6335 Old Pietila Road in Clinton.

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