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Man of La Mancha

book by Dale Wasserman
lyrics by Joe Darion
music by Mitch Leigh
music direction by Mary Chun
stage direction by Elly Lichenstein

$38/$45 at the door  General Admission
$35/$40 at the door  Seniors 62 and over
$30/$35 at the door  Under 30 & Military
$25/$30 at the door  Youth under 18

Parental Guidelines
Man of la Mancha is suggested for older teens or students who already have an interest in the subject matter. Parents should know that there is low-grade brutality by prisoners, prison guards and tavern-goers throughout the play. This level of violence pales in comparison to video games and movies familiar to many teens. Rape is suggested in a scene though never said. This musical with beautiful exciting memorable songs was written in 1964, based on a novel published in 1605 which explore topics including idealism, madness, poetry and prisons.
Runs 2.5 hours.

A mixture of romance, humor and tragedy, framed within a rich musical score featuring the timeless anthem “The Impossible Dream,” this epic musical was beloved on Broadway to the tune of four revivals and five Tony awards. Man of La Mancha follows the saga of Miguel de Cervantes, playwright, poet and tax collector, who finds himself imprisoned and awaiting trial by the Inquisition. When his fellow prisoners try to confiscate his few possessions, including the uncompleted manuscript of his most famous work, the novel Don Quixote, Cervantes defends his masterpiece by presenting it as a play. Transforming himself into the title character, and recruiting his fiercely loyal manservant along with other inmates to take on various roles, he plays out his sweeping story of a deluded would-be-knight who becomes obsessed by his idealistic belief that the wrongs of the world can be corrected.

Funding provided by Sponsors Circle Members Dr. David Noorthoek and Clyde & Kim Schultz additional support provided by Buffington Clay-Miller

Cast, in order of appearance

Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote

Daniel Cilli

His Servant/Sancho Panza

Michael van Why


Stephen Walsh

Duke/Dr. Carrasco/Knight of Mirrors

Anthony Martinez


David Yen


Sean O'Brien


Zane Walters


Gene Wright


Warren Theuret


Jorge Covarrubias


Daniela Innocenti-Beem


Madeleine Ashe


Sophia Ferar


Kim Anderman


Mary Gannon Graham


Kevin Gino


Ross Hagee

Creative Team

Music Director

Mary Chun

Stage Director

Elly Lichenstein

Stage Manager

Ingrid Emming

Associate Stage Director

James Pelican

Fight Choreographer

Richard Pallaziol

Scenic Designer

Wayne Hovey

Costume Designer

Abra Berman

Lighting Designer

Peter Q. Parish



Daniel Gianola-Norris


Michael Goldberg


Ken Brill, Marja Mutru


Rod Verette


Kevin Neuhoff

AndermanKim Anderman (Antonia)  is pleased to return to Cinnabar after appearing as The Second Lady in their production of The Magic Flute, Meg Page in Falstaff, Mercedes in Bizet’s Carmen, Harriet Moshier in the West Coast Premiere of Tobias Picker’s Emmeline and Mrs. Gobineau in Menotti’s The Medium. Other roles include: Cinderella (Into the Woods), Fiordiligi, Dorabella, and Despina (Così fan tutte), Contessa Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Drusilla (in both Purcell’s and Alburger’s settings of Dioclesian), Ismene (Antigone), and Eve/Sarah/Rachel (SATB). A frequent soloist, she has featured on the premiere recording of Janis Dunson Wilson’s Walking in the Light of Christ and has been the soprano soloist the Sebastopol Center for the Arts Sing-Along Messiah since 2007.

Ashe copyMadeleine Ashe (Maria) has performed in San Diego and Los Angeles. Recent North Bay appearances include Sonia in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Main Stage West) Yente in Fiddler on the Roof, Marie Dindon in La Cage aux Folles and Esther Franz in The Price (Cinnabar Theater).


Beem Daniela Innocenti-Beem (Aldonza/Dulcinea) is a multiple award winning favorite, performing in the Bay Area for over 30 years. Oddly enough this is her first show at Cinnabar and she couldn’t be more excited.  Favorite shows/roles include Into the Woods (The Witch-TBA award winner and-SFBATCC  nomination),  Gypsy-(Mama Rose-SFBATCC Nomination), Guys and Dolls (Adelaide-SFBATCC Nomination), Nunsense (Sister Robert Anne- SFBATCC  WINNER), and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Mrs. Mears-SOTA award winner) to name a few. She is an Associate Artist at Lucky Penny Productions in Napa and Co-creator and one half of “The Dynamic Duet” with her longtime friend and singing “sister”, Julie Johnson Ekoue-Totou playing to sold out houses all over the Bay Area for the last 7 years.

CilliOriginally from Florida, Daniel Cilli (Cervantes/Quixote) played Silvio in Cinnabar’s recent Pagliacci. He debuted with the San Francisco Opera in 2016 as Dancaïro in Carmen. Some favorite roles he has performed: Le Directeur in Les mamelles de Tirésias at Opera Parallèle, Papageno in The Magic Flute at the Baltimore Symphony, and Utah Festival’s Inspector Javert in Les Misérables. While a principal baritone 2006-2010 at Opera San José, Daniel Cilli performed fifteen leading roles. He has also performed with West Bay, Houston Grand, Livermore Valley, Des Moines Metro, Utah, Santa Barbara, Central City, & West Edge Opera companies; the Aspen and Tanglewood Music Festivals, and Seaside Music Theater.

CovarrubiasJorge Covarrubias (Paco) is excited to return to Cinnabar to work with such talented cast and crew.  Previous credits include My Way: a tribute to Frank Sinatra, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl (Paul), Brigadoon (Angus), Scrooge (Bob Cratchet), Catch Me If You Can (Tailor). Two Gentlemen of Sonoma (Rodrigo/Zorro), Fiddler on the Roof, Carousel, City of Angels (Sonny), Kismet, Little Mermaid, The Most Happy Fella, Sister Act (Monsignor O’Hara) and Evita.

FerarSophia Ferar (Fermina) is honored  to be a part of this production. Her first play was at Cinnabar Theater, so it holds a special space in her heart. Some of her favorite roles include Bet in Oliver, Lucinda in Into the Woods, Clarice in The Servant of Two Masters, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Philia in A Funny Thing. Sophia is working towards two degrees at SSU and being a mom, the best gift she was ever given.

Gannon Graham copyMary Gannon-Graham (The Housekeeper) has been performing in the theatre as an actor, singer, and teaching artist for over 45 years, here in Sonoma County, New York and Los Angeles, and has also appeared on film, T.V. and radio. This will mark Mary’s third production of Man of La Mancha, her second with Cinnabar Theater (as Antonia in the first), where she also works as a Teaching Artist with the Young Rep Program. As she ages gracefully, so do her characters! Mary wishes to dedicate this and all of her performances to her beloved, who encouraged her always to believe in her dreams.

Gino Kevin Gino (The Padre) Recognized for his “strong, utterly determined” singing, Filipino-American tenor Kevin Gino performs widely in both solo and choral capacities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He currently studies with Cesar Ulloa, and he holds degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Being an alumnus of both the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center as well as the Music Academy of the West, he has worked with some of the best, including Sir Thomas Allen, Marilyn Horne, Anthony Dean Griffey, Patrick Summers, Dean Anthony, and Jeffrey Buchman. When Gino is not singing, he keeps busy designing and crafting new leather goods, learning a new recipe to enjoy, and window shopping on amazon and eBay.

HageeRoss Hagee (The Barber) first appeared with Cinnabar Theater in 1993 as The Horse/Muleteer in Man of La Mancha.  He most recently appeared as The Duke/Dr. Carrasco (MoLM) with North Bay Stage Co, where he was seen last season as KoKo in The Mikado. He was also featured in Spreckels’ productions of Titanic: The Musical, 1776, and as Lord Leonard Aster in Peter and the Starcatcher.

MartinezAnthony Martinez (Duke/Dr. Carrasco/Knight of Mirrors) is a veteran of the Bay Area theater scene, having been nominated for TBA, SFBATCC, ARTY, and SOTA awards for his work at theaters such as 42nd Street Moon, Spreckels Theater Company, 6th Street Playhouse, Lucky Penny Productions, Novato Theater Company, Cinnabar Theater, Actors Theater, Left Edge Theater, Golden State Theater, Sonoma Arts Live, TheaterNow, Sonoma County Repertory Theater, and many more. Anthony was last seen as Edward Rutledge in 1776 at Spreckels Theater Company. In addition to his numerous theater credits, Anthony has also been seen in many film and commercial productions.

O'BrienSean O’Brien (Anselmo) is very happy to be making his first performance at Cinnabar. He has appeared elsewhere in the area with the Mountain Play, Spreckels Theater Company, Theatre-at-Large, Novato Theater Company, and Sonoma Arts Live. Some of his favorite roles have been the Doctor in Next to Normal (TBA Award nomination), Mr. Andrews in Titanic, Scuttle the seagull in The Little Mermaid, the Baker in Into the Woods (BATCC Award nomination), and the Barbershop Quartet in The Music Man.

TheuretWarren Theuret (Juan) joined Cinnabar Theater in 2013 for its production of Carmen, and has been in the chorus for the theater’s last six operas. He ventured into musical theater for Cinnabar’s production of Fiddler on the Roof, followed by roles in several productions, including the man in the iron lung and Luther in City of Angels. Warren recently joined James Pelican’s company Clowns on a Stick in the world premiere of Rhapsody of Fools as the unforgettable UPS Guy.

Van WhyMichael van Why (Manservant/Sancho) holds a B.A. in music from SSU where he studied Vocal Performance. He is a professional entertainer specializing in twentieth century popular French, Italian, Neapolitan and American Cabaret/Café music ( He has offered lecture concerts on the subjects of chanson and canzone at colleges, universities and cultural organizations throughout the bay area. Michael is always grateful to return “home” to Cinnabar. His theatrical work here includes: So Nice to Come Home To, La cage aux folles, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Beneath Paris Skies, and most recently the role of Herman in The Most Happy Fella.

Walsh Stephen Walsh (Governor/Innkeeper)Performance credits include lead roles in Candide, Gianni Schicchi, The Boys from Syracuse, The Most Happy Fella, La Cage Aux Folles, Fiddler on the Roof, and roles in other musicals and operas including The Secret Marriage, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and Into the Woods. He has sung with the San Francisco Choral Artists, Chanticleer and the San Francisco Opera Chorus. Mr. Walsh has been the principal cantor at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco since 1993. He lives with his family in Vallejo.

WaltersZane Walters (Jose) holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Sonoma State University. This is his second show with Cinnabar, having appeared last summer in the chorus of Pagliacci. Other favorite roles include The Actor/Young Kipps in The Woman in Black (Raven Players), Leon Czolgosz in Assassins (Narrow Way Stage), Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare in the Cannery), and 12 roles in Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (Spreckels Theater Company). Zane feels honored to be part of this rendition of such a special show in Cinnabar’s history.

WrightGene Wright (Tenorio) has appeared on the SRJC stage in Jesus Christ Superstar (Caiaphas) and Phantom of the Opera. Since 2014 he has performed as bass soloist for Handel’s Messiah in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Oakland, and Fairfield. In 2016, he performed twice with Cinnabar Theater: der Sprecher in Magic Flute, and Pasquale/Postman in The Most Happy Fella. He had the pleasure to play Sarastro at SSU in February, and was bass soloist in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in May. In June, he made his Pocket Opera debut in Roberto Devereux. Gene is a long-time voice student of Jody and Peter Benecke, and has also trained with Ruth Ann Swenson & David Burnakus.

YenDAVID L. YEN (Pedro) is grateful to join the Cinnabar team after finishing a run as Benedick in In The Mood (Shakespeare in the Cannery). Favorite past roles include Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (6th Street Playhouse), Smee in Peter Pan (the Mountain Play), Hanratty in Catch Me if You Can: the Musical (Spreckels Theater Company), and Stanhope in Journey’s End (Ross Valley Players). His one-man performance of Santaland Diaries has played all over the North Bay for nine consecutive years. He has been nominated for a handful of TBA and BATCC awards, and has won the latter twice for his work in Journey’s End and August: Osage County. He is also a critically acclaimed director, having just finished the world premiere of the Norwegian play Munch and his Mentor. His next directorial endeavor will be a return to Spreckels for Spamalot. Follow him at


Abra Berman (Costume Designer) has been designing costumes for over thirty years.  Collaborations includes San Francisco Playhouse, Pacific Repertory Theatre, West Bay Opera, Marin Shakespeare Company, Company C Contemporary Ballet, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Berkeley Playhouse, Lamplighters Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Palo Alto Players, The De Young Museum, The Museum of Performance and Design, Hillbarn Theatre, Cinnabar Theater and Sonoma County Repertory Theatre, among othersMany of her projects have been nominated for awards including SFBATCCA, Theatre Bay Area, Play Shakespeare, and Broadway World.  Her designs for Red Velvet at San Francisco Playhouse won Best Costume Design from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle in 2017.  Abra has an MFA from UCLA in theatrical costume design.  She is theatre faculty at San Francisco City College.

ChunMary Chun (Music Director, Conductor) “One cannot resist the charm, energy, and allégresse that was displayed on the podium by Mary Chun.” 
– Le Figaro, Paris. A fierce advocate of new work and equally passionate about reviving classics by the masters, Maestro Chun conducts opera and musical theater in the Bay Area and beyond. In 2014 she made her Chinese debut as Music Director for the premiere of Avenue Q in Beijing where the two-month run was met with sold-out success and won the distinction of Best Musical Production in the Large Theater Category. Invited to return the next year for the Chinese premiere of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Mary music directed both the Beijing and Shanghai productions of this Pulitzer-prize winning musical. Beginning her 7th season as resident music director at Cinnabar and 17th season as principal conductor for Earplay, Mary has conducted operas new and old in Europe and the US and worked with notable composers such as John Adams, Libby Larsen, and Tan Dun, to name a few. Nominated by the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle for her work with recent Cinnabar productions Fiddler, The Marriage of Figaro and The Most Happy Fella, Mary received the Best Music Direction Award in Small Theater Category for The Marriage of Figaro. Mary’s most recent Cinnabar productions were Pagliacci last June, as well as The Most Happy Fella, The Magic Flute and Falstaff. Mary was recently named Music Director for the Beijing/Shanghai-based Seven Ages Investment Company which produces major Broadway musical hits in Mandarin translation.

Ingrid Emming (Stage Manager) began stage managing in 2007, most recently for A Little Night Music at 6th Street Playhouse. She has also worked on productions with Raven Performing Arts Theater, Pegasus Theater, Main Stage West, and Narrow Way Stage Company. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University’s Department of Design and Merchandising, and 2017 marks her 19th year of private professional practice specializing in architectural and interior design. She is delighted to be working again with Cinnabar Theater.

HoveyWayne Hovey (Set Designer) has been working in the technical side of theater for more than 40 years, doing everything from backstage work to set, sound and lighting design and stage management. He has provided set design for Cinnabar’s Jacques Brel is Alive and Well, The Marriage of Figaro, Bad Dates, Mahalia Jackson<em, and last season’s opener, The Most Happy Fella. He’s provided light design for more than 15 shows at Cinnabar, including The Magic Flute, as well as the world premiere of Trevor Allen’s One Stone (Einstein), The Odd Couple and Pagliacci last season.

LichensteinElly Lichenstein (Stage Director) joined Cinnabar in 1975 after a short career as a cellist in Belgium. Studying voice with Cinnabar’s founder Marvin Klebe, drama with Fred Curchack and Richard Blake, and movement with Ann Woodhead, she sang at least 50 roles with the company until retiring from the operatic stage in 1999. A passionate proponent of intimate theater and opera, she serves as Cinnabar’s artistic director, directs opera (including last season’s Pagliacci) and musicals (including last season’s The Most Happy Fella). She also recently appeared onstage as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, and as Jeannette in Jane Anderson’s The Quality of Life. She also occasionally performs at Mainstage West in Sebastopol.

PallaziolRichard Pallaziol (Fight Choreographer) has been a professional stage fight choreographer for the past thirty-five years. He studied theatre at CSU Long Beach and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. He has twice appeared on the Cinnabar stage as actor, having performed in last year’s The Quality of Life and the previous year’s The Creature. He has acted in many California theatres, including Marin Shakespeare Festival, the Herbst Theatre, Grove Shakespeare, Napa Valley Conservatory Theatre, Shakespeare Napa Valley, and for the Napa Valley Shakespeare Festival, where he also directed. Richard will return to Cinnabar in spring to tackle the role of Salieri in Amadeus.

Parish copyBorn and raised in Northern California, Peter Q. Parish (Lighting Designer) has worked with several companies in the San Francisco Bay Area designing sets, lights, masks and puppets. Peter attained his MFA in Stage Design and Lighting from the Lir Academy, National Academy of Dramatic Art, Trinity College, Dublin IRL.  Most recently, Pete designed sets for Dead Man’s Cell Phone at The Lir,  Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party at Sonoma State University, Sophocles’ The Birds at Cinnabar Theater, and Twelfth Night for Ensemble Production Company in Larkspur.  Peter’s most recent lighting designs have been seen in Pippin at St. Patrick’s College, DCU in Dublin,  and lighting Liz Roche’s Dance Company.  Peter’s wife, Sarah McKereghan, is a playwright, actor and director, and they have two beautiful girls, Cordelia and Kalliope.

PelicanJames Pelican (Associate Stage Director) is a founding member of Clowns On A Stick and has been performing with the ensemble since 2003. Besides helping to create and perform over two dozen short pieces that have been performed as part of vaviety shows, circuses, and any other stage that is not off limits to clowns, James also wrote the full length show To Bury A Cat and co-wrote last season’s Rhapsody of Fools for Cinnabar. A resident of Petaluma, James feels fortunate to call Cinnabar his home theater, not only performing in many shows over the years (including Rhapsody and its operatic counterpart, Pagliacci), but volunteering his time whenever possible. Notable Cinnabar productions include last fall’s production of The Quality of Life (Neal), La Cage Aux Folles (Jacob), Balloonacy (Old Man), and Candide (Clown/Choreographer). Don Quixote (Don Q/Theater of Yugen), Trinculo (The Tempest/MSW), and The Gatekeeper (Descent of Inanna/Independent Eye) are other favorite roles. He is also the producer of the Chautauqua Revue, now in its 15th year at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center.


BrillKen Brill (Keyboard) is thrilled to return to Cinnabar, after having last performed under the amazing musical direction of Mary Chun for the 2015 production of City of Angels.  Since that time, Ken has performed as actor/singer/pianist playing six characters in City of Angels at San Francisco Playhouse, as well as keyboard player for Silence the Musical at Ray of Light, and for Seussical the Musical at BAM. Look for Ken onstage in the role of Santa in SF Playhouse’s upcoming production of A Christmas Story.

GianolaDaniel Gianola-Norris (Trumpet) performs with orchestras throughout the Bay Area. He also appears frequently as a soloist with local ensembles. He has performed regularly as a multi-instrumentalist and occasional juggler in Cinnabar productions since 2007. Daniel is trumpet instructor at SRJC and Music to My Ears, Cotati’s music education center. Daniel’s CD, Food of Love, is a semi-classical collaboration with his wife, vocalist Aja Gianola-Norris. It is available in the iTunes store and at
GoldbergMichael Goldberg (Guitar) is currently playing solo and chamber recitals throughout the United States. He has toured throughout the United States as part of the Alma Duo, an ensemble of violin/viola and guitar, and is also a longtime member of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, a group devoted to contemporary music performance. He has recorded on the Arabesque and Kameleon labels. He has been featured with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, Philharmonia Baroque, Santa Rosa Symphony, Festival Opera, Berkeley Symphony, Composers, Inc., Empyrean Ensemble, San Francisco Girls’ Chorus, Diablo Valley Ballet, and many other Bay Area groups. Mr. Goldberg teaches at U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, and maintains a private teaching practice in Berkeley. He received his Masters of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

MutruMarja Mutru (Keyboard) received her master’s degree in piano performance from the Sibelius Academy in her native Finland. After settling in the San Francisco Bay Area, Marja became the keyboard player for the Paul Dresher Ensemble and has since played with various local ensembles, including the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Earplay, California Symphony, and Ballet San Jose. She has also performed and recorded numerous new chamber operas and solo piano repertoire by various local composers. Marja begins her fifth season as Cinnabar’s go-to pianist and keyboard player.

NeuhoffA versatile musician, Kevin Neuhoff (Percussion) brings out the best from renaissance to razzmatazz! A member of the Carmel Bach Festival, SF Opera Center, Marin, Berkeley, and Fremont Symphonies, he appears with or has recorded with Philharmonia Baroque, Earplay, Opera Parallele, Oakland, California, Santa Rosa, Silicon Valley, Lamplighters, and San Francisco Symphonies. He also records for electronic media with Skywalker Symphony. Kevin has been Cinnabar’s percussionist for 6 seasons. Oh…and his barbequed salmon is not to be missed!

VeretteRod Verette (Bass) first played bass for Camelot in 1976, and he’s been hooked on musical theater ever since. He’s also performed with many classical, jazz, pop, opera and ballet companies during his over 40 years as a musician. Currently, Rod plays with the Vallejo and Solano symphonies, as well as the Symphony Orchestra for Northern California, plus several other groups from big dance bands to string quartets. Rod lives in Brentwood with his wife, Joyce.

Mesmerizing ‘La Mancha’

Daniela Innocenti-Beem’s Aldonza and Daniel Cilli’s Quixote lead first-rate cast


As Petaluma temperatures reached record highs this Labor Day weekend, Cinnabar Theatre hit a record-breaking level of excellence with its opening of “Man of La Mancha.”

Set in a dungeon during the Spanish Inquisition, the show is centered on Miguel de Cervantes, a tax-collector, awaiting trial for having dared to foreclose on a church. Also a poet and playwright, Cervantes faces another trial from his fellow prisoners, who wish to seize his prized possession, a treasured manuscript. In order to protect it, he creates “an entertainment” for his defense, in which he enlists the prisoners to play the characters. Cervantes plays the main character, Don Quixote, a slightly delirious man who wishes to complete his “quest” of becoming a knight.

The set and lighting, designed by Wayne Hovey and Peter Parish, immediately gives a dark and sultry mood before the show even begins, as actors depict desperate prisoners. In slow-motion movements, they creep out from secret entrances beneath the set, creating a sneak-peak, 3D-storybook vibe for audience members as they make their way into the auditorium.

However, the show certainly does not keep those dark dungeon vibes for long. Daniel Cilli, as the combined Cervantes, Don Quixote and Alonso Quijana, exhibits his angelic operatic baritone singing voice in songs like “The Impossible Dream” and “Dulcinea.”

Daniela Innocenti- Beem, who plays Aldonza (dubbed Dulcinea by Quixote), gives more than an A+ performance.

A kitchen maid and prostitute who wishes for a better life, Aldonza brings a high level of emotion to the show – whether it be anger, pain, sadness or hopefulness. Michael van Why plays Sancho Panza, the sidekick to Cervantes, and not only serving him, but serving as the comicalaspect of the show, with his light-headed philosophical wit. Van Why’s rather cheery character — certainly an audience favorite — lightens the sometimes sinister mood. The music is by far one of the show’s best features. Musical director Mary Chun certainly proves her genius in all the musical choices, setting the tone of the show. Kevin Neuhoff’s heart-beat-like drums sprinkle fear in the air as the prisoners await their possibly dreadful fate.

Michael Goldberg gives a stellar performance on classical guitar, bringing the richness of Spanish culture to the proceedings. The magical ensemble also includes Daniel Gianola on trumpet and flute, Rod Verette on bass, and Marja Mutru and Ken Brill on keyboards.

Elly Lichenstein’s stage direction is excellent, particularly as the story transforms from imagination to reality, and vice versa, creating sensations that people usually only feel at Disneyland. The show is rich in underlying messages, challenging our views of reality and fantasy. As the show nears its close, and Cervantes is called to face his real trial, another message emerges as the poet-and-playwright finally understands the importance of facing the challenges that scare us the most.

High Notes
‘La Mancha’ is everything a musical should be


The notion that musicals are the opposite of serious drama, happily optimistic fluff designed to allow audiences to escape the world, is obvious nonsense to anyone whose been thoroughly shattered by a truly great musical.

That a musical uses the power of song to dissect the world’s problems makes the effort no less serious than were those issues examined through prose alone. Like a sculptor’s chisel, sometimes a well-crafted song is the perfect tool to cut right to heart of the matter.

In Man of La Mancha, now playing at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater, these ideas are examined, in a way, through the story of Miguel de Cervantes (the excellent baritone Daniel Cilli). Imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition, the poet and playwright attempts to cut through the hopelessness of his fellow prisoners by telling the story of Alonso Quixano, a Spanish nobleman who has read too many books about knights in shining armor, loses his sanity, names himself Sir Don Quixote and set off to revive the age of Chivalry.

As written by Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh in 1964, Man of La Mancha offers no simple answers, and this production—sensitively directed by Elly Lichenstein, with superb musical direction by Mary Chun—is anything but fluff.

Cilli is wonderful. His Cervantes carries a wounded humanity and palpable fear, and imbues Quixote with a kind of goofy, amiable, wide-eyed earnestness. As Aldonza, the bitter prostitute whom Quixote names Dulcinea—believing her to be a symbol of purity and beauty—Daniela Innocenti-Beem is astonishing, her interpretation of Aldonza’s desperation is as raw and real as her singing is sweet and often soaring.

The remarkably good supporting cast is full of strong voices and striking performances. These include Michael van Why as Quixote’s faithful squire Sancho Panza, Anthony Martinez as the skeptical prisoner known as the Duke, Mary Gannon Graham as Quixano’s housekeeper, Kim Anderson as Quixano’s niece Antonia and Stephen Walsh as the inmate known as the Governor, who puts Cervantes—and his Don Quixote manuscript—on trial.

With strong support from lighting, set design, costume and makeup, this lovely, passionately acted, emotionally searing La Mancha is at times heartbreaking, shattering and even horrifying, while simultaneously remaining hopeful, engaging and healing.

It’s everything a musical can and should be.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★★½

Man of La Mancha


Titular roles don’t come much more challenging than … Miguel de Cervantes, the Man of La Mancha, so why not increase the challenge by casting the role with performers whose fortés are outside of standard American theatre?

Cinnabar Theater Director Elly Lichenstein has Daniel Cilli, primarily an opera singer who debuted with the San Francisco Opera in 2016, in the dual role of Cervantes and Don Quixote…

La Mancha is set in the bowels of a 16th century Spanish prison, where Cervantes awaits his fate at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition. Stripped of his belongings by the other prisoners, Cervantes pleads for the return of his manuscript of Don Quixote and demands a trial. His defense will be a reenactment of his story of honor and love. He will play the title role with his also-imprisoned manservant (Michael Van Why) as Sancho Panza. The other prisoners are drafted into roles as the tale is told.

And sung, because it is a musical after all. Under the musical direction of Mary Chun, Cilli’s magnificent baritone is the perfect match for the Mitch Leigh & Joe Dario score culminating with a show-stopping version of “The Impossible Dream.”  He sets the standard for musical performance in this show, and he is met by Daniela Innocenti-Beem who’s doing her best work to date as his Dulcinea. Her delivery of the heart-breaking “Aldonza” is an emotional, gut-wrenching apex of this production. Nice vocal work is also done by Kevin Gino as the Padre.  Lighter moments are brought to this often-dark production courtesy of Van Why with “I Really Like Him” and Mary Gannon Graham as the Housekeeper in “I’m Only Thinking of Him”. Quality performers like Kim Anderman, Anthony Martinez, Stephen Walsh, David Yen, and others round out the ensemble.

Befitting a show with a budget, there’s a dank and detailed dungeon set by Wayne Hovey and appropriately grimy costumes by Abra Berman. Chun continues her award-winning work at Cinnabar with a six-piece orchestra that fills the Cinnabar auditorium with the Tony-winning score.

Lichenstein wasn’t tilting at windmills when deciding to bring this production to the North Bay. A quest to Petaluma to catch this production will bring ample reward.

Stephen Walsh (the Governor), Daniel Cilli (Don Quixote) and Michael Van Why (Sancho Panza)

All photos by Eric Chazankin

Madeleine Ashe (Maria) and Daniel Cilli (Don Quixote de La Mancha)

Gene Wright (Tenorio), Warren Theuret (Juan), Ross Hagee (The Barber), Stephen Walsh (The Governor), Sophia Ferar (Fermina), Kevin Gino (The Padre)


Mary Gannon Graham (The Housekeeper), Zane Walters (Jose), Kim Anderman (Antonia)


Daniel Cilli as Don Quixote de La Mancha


Sophia Ferar (Fermina), Kevin Gino (The Padre)

Michael van Why (Sancho Panza), Daniel Cilli (Don Quixote), Daniella Innocenti Beem (Aldonza)

Anthony Martinez (The Duke)

Banner photo Daniel Cilli as Don Miguel de Cervantes. Based on a photo by Veronique Kherian