NORMAN — A stirring version of “Man of La Mancha” swept spectators along — almost enough not to mind the lack of an intermission — in a performance of the musical at the Sooner Theatre. The production also made us think about the role of fantasy in dealing with grim realities of everyday life.
Mateja Govich was brilliant in both his roles as author Cervantes, and his most famous creation, Don Quixote, whose life he re-enacts as part of a “trial” by his fellow prisoners of the Spanish Inquisition.
Govich, who returned to his hometown of Norman after eight years in New York City, seemed to nearly become a different person when he put on the beard, wig and makeshift armor of Quixote.
Gesturing broadly but forlornly, and looking just disoriented enough as Quixote, and clear-eyed and world-weary as Cervantes, Govich brought a strong, sure voice to the former part.
Indeed, throughout the evening, Govich turned “The Impossible Dream,” and especially the musical's frequently reprised title song, into powerful anthems of idealism in the face of a recalcitrant world.
Beth Adele not only got across the feisty “attitude” of the maid and prostitute at the inn-“castle,” but overcame early vocal strain to sing the part of Aldonza-Dulcinea more and more touchingly and effectively.
Particularly moving were Adele's final reprise of “Dulcinea,” and an earlier scene in which she demanded, without success, that Don Quixote see her, for once, as the fallen woman she actually was.
Making the most of a high-pitched voice, Brett Uram was good in such songs as “The Missive” and “A Little Gossip,” and irresistible in “I Really Like Him,” as Don Quixote's servant and squire, Sancho Panza.