Features:


Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey extends run of 'Man of La Mancha'
By Ted Otten
 | The Trenton Times
For the 50th anniversary season of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, artistic director Bonnie J. Monte planned a truly ambitious and varied lineup including a revival of “Man of La Mancha,” one of the world’s most popular musicals.

The run opened on Oct. 17 and was due to close Sunday, but outstanding reviews, audience acclaim, a disastrous hurricane and the use of a new rehearsal space to prepare for the season’s last production worked together to allow an extension of that run through Nov. 25 at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison. Click here to read more.




Reviews:


Cervantes and Quixote, Played With Fervor
By Michael Sommers
 | The New York Times
A particular pleasure of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s current revival of “Man of La Mancha” is the wonderfully intimate experience of enjoying this stirring musical performed without amplification in its 308-seat theater in Madison.

The fiery flamenco guitar flourishes and percussive rhythms of Mitch Leigh’s sinuous, rousing music tingle in the ear while before one’s eyes, Miguel de Cervantes, the 16th-century Spanish man of letters, dons the silvery mane and drooping mustache of his enduring fictional creation, a daft but utterly noble old gentleman who blazes into musical life with the show’s first song. Click here to read more.


'La Mancha' makes magic at Shakespeare Theatre
By Ronni Reich
 | The Star-Ledger
Sound the “trumpets of glory.” “Man of La Mancha,” the five-Tony Award-winning 1965 musical, has returned to the stage. As a paean to the power of theater and imagination, director Bonnie J. Monte’s production is an especially fitting addition to the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s 50th anniversary season.

Monte’s production embraces Quixote’s creative spirit. The staging cleverly balances the prisoners’ necessarily minimal means with spectacle. One sees the transformation that putting on a show provides the prisoners. They begin cowering in what looks like a dim dungeon. As the show progresses, they engage in energetic and artful brawls (courtesy of fight director Rick Sordelet), Moorish dances and displays of chivalry and malice. The lively instrumental ensemble of 10 plays onstage, mixed seamlessly into the action. Click here to read more.


A mean, lean 'La Mancha': Shakespeare Theatre of N.J. takes on the 'Impossible'
By C. W. Walker
 | the Daily Record
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison rarely presents a musical and there are several good reasons for that. The most obvious, of course, is the strict budget and limited resources of a non-profit theater. Another is physical space: the F. M. Kirby Theatre on the campus of Drew University is cozy, bringing the audience and cast together, up close and personal. Even if you could get a full chorus on stage, there’s always the problem of where to put the orchestra.

But then again, other companies perform musicals in even smaller, less accommodating spaces. The real reason, one suspects, is the tension between the Shakespeare Theatre’s mission of presenting works that are both thoughtful as well as entertaining and current audience expectations. For, the American musical — perhaps unfairly — has become associated with elaborate spectacle and big sloppy emotions. With the over-produced, overpriced, tourist-attracting extravaganzas now dominating Broadway, the concept of an “intimate” musical has become an oxymoron. Click here to read more.


‘Man of La Mancha’ Gets Inspired Revival
By William Westhoven
 | Chatham Patch
In the planning of her company’s 50th anniversary, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte hoped to share her love of theater—and dreaming impossible dreams—with her faithful followers at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. What better way to accomplish those goals than a revival of “Man of La Mancha,” a tribute to artists and the spirit of possibility?
Since its 1965 debut, this unlikely Broadway hit has been revived there four times and placed its name among the most popular and recognizable musicals of all time. Perhaps it’s been done too often, to the point that even passionate theater fans often shrug or shudder at the announcement of a new production.

Fortunately for us, Monte has found a way to freshen it up, pull its power and emotions from the shadows and present us with a rich, vibrant and utterly original look at this fascinating tale. And with a talented cast of 30 performers—including the musicians, many of whom are integrated into the action—at her disposal, this production feels and looks big enough to play on Broadway, something Monte was not likely going for, but we’ll take it just the same. Click here to read more.




'Man of La Mancha': Staging a great musical is no impossible dream for The Shakespeare Theatre
By Bob Brown
 | The Princeton Packet
For its 50th anniversary season, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has lined up a special treat, its first musical in 10 years. And what more fitting production than the perennial hit Man of La Mancha, based on Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, now at the company’s F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre through Nov. 18.

As Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte said on opening night, the company’s success over the past half-century, particularly in her own 22nd season, has been “an impossible dream” that has come true, thanks to regular patrons. In production notes she says this show is a way to “pay homage,” not only to Cervantes, “but to those he represented — centuries’ worth of stubborn, quixotic, courageous theatre folk and artists of all kinds, brave hearts who do good for others and the world, and idealists and dreamers from all walks of life.” Click here to read more.



Staging Intensifies Dramatic Impact of Man of La Mancha
By Bob Rendell
 | Talkin' Broadway
Without making any major revisions in the music or text, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and director Bonnie J. Monte have given us a dramatically compelling, deeply moving, and satisfyingly cogent Man of La Mancha. While neither "small" nor "minimalist," this production manages to be so breathtakingly intimate that it enables us to discern a depth and subtlety in Dale Wasserman's book which had previously been obscured by its flashy operetta flourishes and heart-on-the-sleeve sentimentality.

The stage has been built as far forward as possible into the auditorium in a gentle arc paralleling the arc of the seating area. Along with other elements of staging and lighting, this configuration is used to create an intimacy for the viewer with the prisoners in the common room of the prison of the city of Seville in late 16th century Spain. Click here to read more.



‘Man of La Mancha’ Brings Impossible Dreams to Shakespeare Theatre in Madison
By Liz Keill
 | The Alternative Press
Artistic Director Bonnie Monte has assembled an extraordinary cast to bring this lyrical production to life. William Michaels is the engaging, flamboyant Don Quixote, when not playing his creator, Cervantes. He totally transforms himself into the "knight of the woeful countenance" as he is dubbed in one of the scenes in the prison. Michaels has just the right touch of madness as the knight, seeing nothing but bravery and noble deeds in battling windmills and rescuing damsels in distress. He is equally commanding as the author Cervantes.

He has arrived with a trunk full of props and a script that he talks his fellow prisoners into performing. Thus, we have the prostitute Aldonza transformed into the lady Dulcinea. Jane Pitch brings a bold, earthy quality to the role, especially following her rape by fellow prisoners, who she has attempted to comfort in their defeat. Click here to read more.



'Man Of La Mancha' at Drew University takes different approach
By Stuart Duncan
 | New Jersey Newsroom
So, you’ve seen “Man of La Mancha” multiple times and think you know the show inside out. Perhaps not. The current production at The Shakespeare Theatre, on the pretty campus of Drew University, is a startlingly different approach from many. Director Monte has taken risks by taking us back to the original material and looked it over again through fresh eyes.

And in doing so, she has discovered fresh new strengths, fresh insights, tossed aside some of the cartoonish cleverness of some recent and casual productions in favor of a more realistic period piece. And, surprisingly, in the process unearthed new moments of fun and more interesting characters. Click here to read more.



STNJ La Mancha Transforms
By Sherri Rase
 | QOnStage
“Man of LaMancha” is the latest offering of the 50th Anniversary season of Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) and it is truly transformational theatre. Whether it’s Cervantes to Don Quixote, a manservant to Sancho Panza, or Aldonza to Dulcinea, there are big ideas afoot. Bonnie Monte directs this pocket production to dazzling effect, most especially with the casting of William Michals as Don Quixote.

William Michals infuses Miguel de Cervantes with vigor and verve. His beautifully modulated orotund voice commands attention and the prison seems a smattering brighter as a result of his entry. His Sancho is Blake Pfeil who added a great deal of sparkle of his own to last year’s “Christmas Carol” at STNJ and Sancho’s war with the practical and the fantastical was fought in sweeps and inches. A musical is a difficult undertaking, but this cast of “prisoners” was more than willing to assist Cervantes in his–um–defense in the perfect piece of Socratic moralistic story telling. Click here to read more.



'Man of La Mancha' stars William Michals at Shakespeare Theatre of N. J.
By Rick Busciglio
 | Examiner.com
Saturday night (October 20, 2012) was opening night for the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's spectacular production of the musical "Man of La Mancha." Director Bonnie J. Monte has produced an exciting retelling of the story of Miguel de Cervantes' creation "Don Quixote." Remember? Cervantes is a prisoner who enlists his fellow prisoners in performing a play-within-a-play about the jouster of windmills, Don Quixote while awaiting his hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. The book published in 1605 and recently cited as the "best literary work ever written," was transformed into a non-musical 1959 teleplay "I, Don Quixote" by Dale Wasserman and transformed again into a Tony winning "Best Musical" in 1965 with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion. “It has been nearly ten years since we’ve produced a musical and we are thrilled to present this gorgeous classic in our 50th Anniversary Season." said Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte. Click here to read more.


The "Man From La Mancha" Imagines the World as It Should Be
By Bruce Chadwick
 | History News Network
Don Quixote rides again! The immortal knight-errant of the sixteenth century, created by writer Miguel de Cervantes between several prison sentences during the Spanish Inquisition, is back on stage in a new version of the Man of La Mancha, which opened last Saturday at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey.

The centerpiece of this play is the wonderfully gifted William Michals, a strapping actor who plays Don Quixote. Michals has a gorgeous voice and stuns the audience every time he launches into a song, whether the foot-stomping theme song or the slow, gorgeous "Dulcinea." He has pizzazz, too, and is a sturdy and trustworthy Don Quixote. His sidekick, the playful Sancho, is portrayed well by Blake Pfeil, who has a sharp sense of humor. Director Bonnie Monte has worked a miracle in staging this play. In her hands, every scene comes to life, giving the play an upbeat tempo while not shying away from the hellish reality of a dark, dank prison. Click here to read more.



BWW Reviews: The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's MAN OF LA MANCHA
By Gregory G. Allen
 | Broadway World
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is celebrating their 50th anniversary and Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte (having spent 22 years in that position) knew she wanted to produce Man of La Mancha as a dedication and thank you to the dreamers and theater people who have supported the company. As one of those 'crazy theater types', I applaud her for taking on this show that walks the line between reality and insanity - and what a wonderfully polished and unique production she has given us.

Man of La Mancha rides on the shoulders of the actor portraying Cervantes/Quixote and Monte has an excellent strong-shouldered leading man in William Michals. He is much more than the booming voice that can deliver "The Impossible Dream" or the beauty of "Dulcinea". He is an actor that transforms himself in front of the audience to that of a frail man teetering on The Edge of sanity with an incredible ability to convey both comedy and pathos to lead his audience on a journey. The Broadway performer never goes too far in his portrayal and fills his performance with truth. Click here to read more.



“Man of La Mancha” extended through Nov. 25 at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
By Janine M. Torsiello
 | Morris Beats
From the first moment the echoing sound of the prison door opening resounds in the theater until the final lights come up, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s “Man of La Mancha” is a mesmerizing and engaging show.

The production, which opened Saturday night at the F.M. Kirby Theatre on the campus of Drew University in Madison, is wonderfully directed by artistic director Bonnie Monte.

As the show ended I found myself holding my breath, and judging from the silence all around me in the theater, I was not the only one. It was an exquisite show from start to finish and when the cast took their bows they received an extended standing ovation from the capacity crowd. Click here to read more.