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10/27/2008 "Man of La Mancha" prompts music, theatre collaboration

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McMINNVILLE – A classic musical, updated for modern times, is providing the backdrop for a collaboration of Linfield College theatre and music students. “Man of La Mancha” will be presented Nov. 6-9 and 12-15 in the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall at Linfield College. The musical was first produced on Broadway in 1965, but the message of idealism is still relevant, according to director Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts. “The message of the play is timeless because it encourages us to fight for our dreams, to fight against injustice and hopelessness and to acknowledge the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves,” Gupton said. “Our production is set in contemporary times so this is not your parents’ ‘Man of La Mancha.’” “Man of La Mancha,” written by Dale Wasserman with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, is an adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote.” In “Man of La Mancha,” Cervantes and his manservant, imprisoned for challenging authority, perform a play using inmates as actors. The story is of knight-errant Don Quixote, his servant, Sancho, and the woman of his dreams, Dulcinea. In the tale, Quixote is a romantic and noble man who sets out to right all wrongs and prove that idealism and dissent are not crimes. Gupton’s modern twist will bring the play and the characters into contemporary times. The audience will be seated on three sides of the stage separated from the actors by a chain-link fence. Gupton hopes this will add to the realism of the story and create a more visceral response for the audience and actors. The wood and steel components of the set make it a musical instrument for the musicians, in addition to their more traditional instruments. This is the first musical that has been produced at Linfield since 1997 when students performed “Mama’Stars,” written by Tom Gressler, professor emeritus of theatre arts, and it will be the first in Ford Hall, according to Faun Tiedge, the play’s musical director and chair of the music department. student collaboration “Students have been asking for a musical production,” she said. “The process of staging a musical from start to finish is an amazing learning experience, for both music and theatre students alike.” The two male leads are each majoring in one of the two departments, which adds to the continuity of the project. Zane Johnston, a senior majoring in theatre arts, said there is a lot to gain from a collaboration of the two departments. The other male lead, Sam Dinsmore, is a senior majoring in music and German. “The theatre and music departments have a lot to learn from each other,” said Johnston. “Having us working together really helps the learning process for performing artists.” The collaboration between music and theatre provides an exciting opportunity for students, as well as enormous challenges. The musicians become a part of the production and will be on stage with the actors throughout the performance. The costumes present another challenge as “Man of La Mancha” is a play within a play and requires multiple costumes for many of the 28 actors. The sheer size of the cast demands extensive imagination and coordination by costume designer Annelie Thurin. “It takes more focus and rehearsal time to prepare for a musical,” said Jillian Haig, a Linfield junior who is playing the role of Dulcinea. “The singing and movement are such an important aspect of the musical. It's been physically demanding.” Performances will be Nov. 6-8 and 12-15 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. Prices are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors (62+). Tickets may be purchased at the Marshall Theatre Box Office or ordered by phone with a credit or debit card. Located just inside the lobby of Ford Hall, the box office is open Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., with extended hours on performance days. Tickets are also available at www.linfield.edu/culture. A small service charge will apply for web orders. The Marshall Theatre is fully accessible. For more information, call 503-883-2292.