Man of La Mancha

Written by Dale Wasserman

Thurs 23rd February - Sat 24th February - Tues 25th February - Sat 4th March 1995

Directed by Peter Corrigan

The Bench presents the musical version of the classic story of Don Quixote and his quest for the Impossible Dream. Join him in his comic misadventures and discover why the legend lives on. This is a unique opportunity to experience a musical of wonderful songs and heart-warming drama - don't miss it.

AuthorDale Wasserman

Dale Wasserman (1914 - 2008)

An American playwright and screen writer, Wasserman was born in Wisconsin and orphaned at the age of nine. Without the aid of a formal education, or a job, he often slept rough in Los Angeles before starting work as a self-taught lighting designer, director and producer in various theatre companies. As a writer he is probably best known for his play adaptation of 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' and his original play 'I, Don Quixote'.

PlayMan of La Mancha

'Man of La Mancha' is a musical adapted from Wasserman's 1959 television play 'I, Don Quixote'. Not actually an adaptation of Miguel Cervantes' novel 'Don Quixote' it does however, use scenes from that work to illuminate Cervantes' life. It was first performed in Connecticut in 1964, and had its New York premiere in 1965. That original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The original West End production opened at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1968 and ran for 253 performances.

'Man of La Mancha' is set in the late 1500s. Failed author-soldier-actor and tax collector Miguel de Cervantes, and his manservant, have been imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition. Charged with foreclosing on a monastery, the two have brought all their possessions with them into the dungeon. They are attacked by their fellow prisoners, who set up a mock trial with the intention of gaining ownership of these possessions. In his defence, Cervantes acts out a play, taking on the part of Alonso Quijana, a senile old man who believes that he should go forth as a knight to right injustice. Quijana renames himself Don Quixote de La Mancha, and sets out with his squire, Sancho Panza (Cervantes' manservant). This play within a play follows Don Quixote's unlikely adventures and and skillfully interweaves fact and story into a fantastic tale.

The Bench Production

Man of La Mancha poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


Cervantes/Don Quixote
/Don Alonso Quijana
David Penrose
Cervantes' manservant
/Sancho Panza
Alan Jenkins
AldonzaLezley Picton
Stuart Hartley
Duke/DoctorJohn Flanagan
PadreTom Kennar
Antonia, Quijana's nieceAli Bullivant
Quijana's housekeeperIngrid Corrigan
Pedro (Muleteer)Damon Wakelin
Juan (Muleteer)Steven Foden
Jose (Muleteer)Steve Long
Paco/Tenorio (Muleteer)Ian Marshall
Femina, a serving wenchAmanda Calver
Maria, the innkeeper's wifeLindy Nettleton
BarberNick Ashton
CaptainJoel Hartman
Moorish dancing girlIngrid Glue
Jacquie Penrose
Rita de Bunsen
Rebecca Webb
Yvonne Jenkins


Graham Bushell Guitar
Stephen Gower Guitar/Bass
Geraldine Denny Clarinet


Director Peter Corrigan
Musical Director Andrew Trotman
Assistant Musical Director Ruth Prior
Stage Manager Gemma Harding
Assistant Stage Manager Zoe Corrigan
Lighting Design Steve Wilkins
Production Managers Andrew Caple
Lindy Nettleton
Publicity John O'Hanlon
Cathy O'Hanlon
Wardrobe Mistress Rita de Bunsen
Set Construction Tim Taylor
Front of House Sally Hartley


The NewsMike Allen

A journey of learning and deep exploration

The Don Quixote musical only lifts off when guitar plucks the first notes of The Impossible Dream, and that's no co-incidence. It is not only the best song in the show but the one that sums it up. And it is sung in Peter Corrigan's Bench Theatre production not as a great heroic number but as what it is - an expression of yearning for a world of injustice and generosity.

In a sense the production males a virtue of its own weakness - which is the technical singing ability of several of the cast. Because they often lack confidence in the notes, they give more of a feeling of seeking the way and exploring a character.

That's certainly true of David Penrose, as the writer Cervantes who presents his Quixotic story to fellow prisoners in jail. In a finely-detailed performance he becomes a fey, strutting Quixote, with a visionary gleam in his gentle delusion, and genuinely moving in his diminishing. Lezley Picton is more assured vocally as the swaggering sluttish, spitting Aldonza, but equally effective in making the character's journey

The News, 24th February 1995

Production Photographs