This weekend, one man will joust with windmills on the stage of Juneau-Douglas High School during Juneau Lyric Opera’s production of “Man of La Mancha,” the musical play adaption of the famous story “Don Quixote” penned by Cervantes.
“It’s really important for us to pick a show with a message,” said John Clough, president of JLO.
The theme of dreaming of life as it should be, not as it is, might be even more valuable today than when the story was written in the 16th century. It’s a story that should be accessible to the whole community, regardless of age, Clough said.
Clough said the whole process of the production from start to finish took two years. This is the first play the company has done with such an extensive set, costumes and choreography. The set is the most mobile and technical yet, Clough added in an interview. Some set pieces had to be completed in an airplane hangar because they were so large. Set designer Nathan Rodda also created a descending staircase for members of the Inquisition to enter and exit the dungeon, which will raise and lower as the story calls for it.
Some of the accessories the knights wear, such as their helmets, came from a professional costumer on Broadway. Otherwise, the costumes were made locally, designed by Shelly Wright who chooses clothes from second-hand clothing stores in Juneau and throughout the west coast and refashions them.
A professional fight choreographer, Becky Engstrom, designed the action sequences and trained all the actors in how to make a believable — and safe — fight scene.
“It looks insane,” Clough said with “all the flailing around at once” and with actors swinging all manner of props, from rakes to whips. At times there are over a dozen actors on stage battling it out, and though the scene appears chaotic, each move has been intensely rehearsed.
He would know. Clough himself plays Pedro, a character he described as a “nasty guy” who uses a bullwhip. To effectively play the character, Clough had to learn how to safely and convincingly use the whip.
The final performances of “Man of La Mancha” takes place this weekend. Performances are Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m., and a 2:30 p.m. closing matinee on Sunday, March 20. All performances take place at the JDHS Theater.
Tickets for Man of La Mancha are available at the JLO website juneauopera.org, the JAHC website jahc.org, Hearthside Books, Rainy Day Books and at the door. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors.
• Contact Clara Miller at 523-2243 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.