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Following the Dream at Falls Church

Cappies Review

Duels with windmills, thieving Moors, castles and princesses. Such were the gallant musings of Fall Church High School’s production of Dale Wasserman’s musical, “Man of La Mancha,” based on Cervantes' novel, "Don Quixote."

The poet Miguel de Cervantes (Ricky Dilworth) is imprisoned in Seville during the Spanish Inquisition. As a defense to the rest of the prisoners, he tells his story of his fanciful past as Don Quixote de La Mancha, the errant knight on a mission to bring good to the world and diminish the power of evil.

As the imaginative warrior, Dilworth’s acting brought depth to a difficult character, truly capturing the idealism of the story in his frequent speeches and platitudes. With his comedic sidekick, Sancho Panza (Luke Haines), the two march into the world to rid it of iniquity and bring amity to all. Along the way, Don Quixote meets his long-dreamed love, whom he names the Lady Dulcinea, a prostitute whose name is actually Aldonza (Dorothy Shepard). Shepard’s natural ease on stage brought life and believability to all of her scenes.

Cervantes uses the other prisoners to bring his story to life in the prison. The ensemble of convicts, led by the Governor (Baylen Forcier) was stellar, transitioning easily from downtrodden dregs of society to rough muleteers, and to Moorish dancers, creating distinct characters every time they appeared on stage.

The show incorporated many elements of Spanish culture and history. The excellent orchestra truly captured the Spanish flavor of the music. Despite a challenging score, the orchestra supported the show with the intensity and passion that this memorable music deserves.

In a musical which could easily become confusing, the scene changes were seamless, transitioning from the prison cell to Cervantes’ imagination flawlessly. The massive set, designed by Dorothy Shepard, was absolutely spectacular, complete with a ladder which folded up and down without the use of visible stagehands.

"Man of La Mancha" transports the audience to a land of ideals, a land of hope. Falls Church High School captured this hope, sending their audience home with a renewed mission to let the imagination rule and let reality pass by unnoticed.

Cappies is a high school critics and awards program involving 50 schools in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. areas.