Man of La Mancha

Written by Dale Wasserman
Music by Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by Joe Darion


Original Production Staged by Albert Marre
Originally Produced by Albert W. Selden and Hal James


June 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 at 8 pm
Sunday matinees – June 11, 18, 25 at 4 pm
Saturday matinee 
– June 24 at 3 pm

Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University
Matthews Acting Studio
185 Nassau Street, Princeton (next to Thomas Sweet)

Tickets available exclusively through the McCarter Ticket Office on or about March 1

Tickets: Thu $40, $45 | Fri $45, $50 | Sat* $45, $50, Sun $45, $50

  • Higher prices apply later in the run
  • *Saturday June 10 $65 – Opening Night with Free “Meet the Artists” Reception

General Admission seating

Approximate run time: 3 hours

Note: Man of La Mancha is suitable for ages 8 and up.


On weekday evenings and on weekends, Princeton University Lot 10 behind the Matthews Acting Studio is open to the public. Entrance is from William Street; see Princeton University’s Parking Map.

Director: Michael Dean Morgan
Music Director: Louis F. Goldberg
Lighting Design: David Jonathan Palmer
Costume Design: Marie Miller
Set Design: TBA
Choreography: Cristina Marte
Production Stage Manager: Zach Jenkins

Who hasn’t hummed The Impossible Dream or used the phrase “tilting at windmills”? This inspirational show won five Tony Awards® on Broadway and endures as one of the best-loved American musicals.

Man of La Mancha is a play-within-a-play based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a poignant story of a dying old man whose impossible dream takes over his mind. It’s All the Same, Dulcinea, I’m Only Thinking of Him, The Impossible Dream, I Really Like Him and Little Bird will long remain in your thoughts and in your soul as Don Quixote, the “Everyman” Man of La Mancha, speaks for humankind.

The Story

cervantes_jaureguiMiguel de Cervantes, aging and an utter failure in his varied careers as playwright, poet and tax collector for the government, has been thrown into a dungeon in Seville to await trial by the Inquisition for an offense against the Church. There he is hauled before a kangaroo court of his fellow prisoners; thieves, cutthroats and trollops who propose to confiscate his meager possessions, one of which is the uncompleted manuscript of a novel called “Don Quixote.” Cervantes, seeking to save it, proposes to offer a novel defense in the form of entertainment. The “court” accedes and before their eyes, donning makeup and costume, Cervantes and his faithful manservant transform themselves into Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They proceed to play out the story with the participation of the prisoners as other characters.

Quixote and Sancho take to the road, on “horses” which dance a lively flamenco, singing Man of La Mancha in a campaign to restore the age of chivalry, battle evil, and right all wrongs. The famous encounter with the windmills follows, but Quixote ascribes his defeat to the machinations of his enemy, the dark Enchanter, whom one day he will meet in mortal combat.

In a roadside inn–which Quixote, spying from a distance, insists to Sancho is really a castle–Aldonza, the inn’s serving girl and part-time trollop, is propositioned by a gang of rough Muleteers. Quixote, arriving at the inn, sees Aldonza as the dream-ideal whom he will serve evermore, singing Dulcinea to her. Aldonza is confused and angered by Quixote’s refusal to see her as she really is.

The Padre and Dr. Carrasco arrive at the inn but on questioning Quixote, are frustrated by his lunatic logic. They are interrupted by the arrival of an itinerant Barber singing The Barber’s Song. Quixote confiscates the Barber’s shaving basin, convinced that it is really the “Golden Helmet” of Mambrino, and is ceremoniously crowned with the aid of the Muleteers and the incredulous Barber.

Later Aldonza encounters Quixote in the courtyard where he is holding vigil, in preparation for being dubbed a knight by the Innkeeper. She questions him on his seemingly irrational ways, and is answered by Quixote in a statement of his credo, The Impossible Dream.

Aldonza has caught the fever of Quixote’s idealism but, attempting to put it into practice, is cruelly beaten and ravaged by the Muleteers in The Abduction and is carried off.

On the road again, Quixote and Sancho encounter a thievish band of Moors and are robbed of all their possessions in the Moorish Dance. They return to the inn, only to encounter the disillusioned Aldonza who sings her denunciation of the Quixotic dream in the dramatic Aldonza. The Enchanter, a fantastic figure disguised as the Knight of the Mirrors, enters; challenging Quixote to combat, the Enchanter defeats him, forcing him to see himself as a pathetic clown.

At home again, the old man who once called himself Don Quixote is dying. Aldonza, having followed him, forces her way into the room, pleading poignantly with him in the song Dulcinea to restore the vision of glory she held so briefly. Quixote, remembering, rises from his bed to reaffirm the stirring Man of La Mancha, but collapses, dying. Aldonza, having glimpsed the vision once more, refuses to acknowledge death, saying, “My name is Dulcinea.”

Back in Cervantes’ dungeon the prisoners, dregs of humanity though they are, have been deeply affected by his story and restore to him his precious manuscript. Cervantes is summoned to his real trial by the Inquisition. The prisoners unite to sing him on his way with The Impossible Dream.

Source: Tams-Witmark Music Library

MAN OF LA MANCHA is presented by arrangement with
560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022