Review Round Up: Man of La Mancha, London Coliseum

Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the revival of the musical playing a limited season at the London Coliseum.

(c)Manuel Harlan

The Telegraph: ** “Acavalcade of showbiz colossi have crooned “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” over the decades. The stand-out number from Man of La Mancha ear-wormed its way into popular affection from the moment this ambitious musical rejig of Cervantes’ literary masterpiece of the Spanish Golden Age, Don Quixote, rode into Broadway in 1966.”

Time Out: ** “Producers Michael Linnit and Michael Grade don’t make a convincing case for reviving it: a mismatched celebrity cast and a by-numbers production mean that contemporary relevance, like chivalry, really is an impossible dream.”

The Guardian: ** “Here all the stops are pulled out but, despite the commitment of the ENO orchestra, the result is a misfire. It says much that only a giant staircase, constantly lowered in James Noone’s metallic design, was moving.”

WhatsOnStage: ** ” the pleasures here are all round the edges. The score by Mitch Leigh is terrific, all brass and guitars and Spanish inflections, and is played with tremendous oomph by the ENO orchestra conducted by David White. Peter Polycarpou is an attractive Sancho Panza, and Nicholas Lyndhurst gets a lot of comic mileage out of a drunken innkeeper. The ensemble are lively and willing. But it’s not enough. Man of La Mancha hasn’t been performed professionally in London since 1968. It can now return to the museum.”

The Arts Desk: ** “How, then, is an audience meant to embrace the themes of individualism and the power of the imagination? Or the theory that it’s actually the rest of the world that’s mad? Price’s production edges around those ideas uneasily, placing more emphasis on the big set-pieces – including an overly choreographed fight scene – and the comedy, though the latter is distinctly uneven.”

Broadway World: ** “There is no doubt that the big names involved here will draw in the audience, but it’s likely they will leave underwhelmed at best.”

Evening Standard: ** “While Grammer captures well the Don’s melancholy nobility, it’s not the sort of charismatic lead performance necessary to anchor a show in a venue like the Coliseum.”

London ** “Lonny Price’s panoramic, well-populated production has detail (and gorgeous costumes from Fotini Dimou), though James Noone’s ugly set doesn’t help atmospherically. A lumbering show has its moments of familiarity as “The Impossible Dream” pops up again (and again), but mostly the dream that’s impossible is to make it feel alive and relevant today.”

The Times: ** “It’s 51 years since this Broadway musical version of Don Quixote was last seen in the West End. To judge by this charmless revival, starring an unpersuasive Kelsey Grammer as Cervantes’s ageing dreamer, we could happily put up with another 51 years till we see it again.”

The Express: ** “This show should be a whimsical romp with some sharp points to make about the best and worst extremes of human nature. Instead, we should dream the entirely possible dream it won’t be seen on the London stage for at least another 50 years.”

The Spy in the Stalls: **** “the real star of the show, is Danielle De Niese who plays Aldonza/Dulcinea. She is fiery, strong and vulnerable, angry at Quixote’s refusal to see her for who she really is, coping with the rough muleteers in the inn, who eventually brutalise her, and very touching at the end when she accepts the name Dulcinea for the first time and starts the spine tinglingly beautiful cast version of The Impossible Dream. Her voice soars and enchants with a lilting sweetness and strength, and her acting is powerful and compelling.”

MusicOMH: *** ” There is some good singing, acting and staging across the evening as a whole, but a show such as this needs to achieve everything perfectly within the style demanded of it, and at too many points too many things undermine the effectiveness and thus overall impact of what we see before us.”

Man of La Mancha will play at the London Coliseum from the 26th April until the 8th June. To book tickets click here.

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