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Man of La Mancha

sheet music

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

ANTA Theatre Washington Square - November 22, 1965 ( 2329 perfs)
Piccadilly Theatre, London - April 24, 1968 (253 perfs)


Based on The Adventures of Don Quixote, by Miguel the Cervantes y Saavedra, Man of La Mancha is a comic tragedy of mankind's struggle to better both himself and the world in which he lives. When Cervantes started writing he intended a satirical burlesque of the then fashionable novels of chivalry; gradually the author's sympathies changed, ad the novel developed into a deeper, broader and more compassionate account of the adventures of and eccentric idealist in a hostile, greedy and cynical world, which leads the reader to the conclusion that if Don (Quixote is a fool it is because the world does not live up to his ideals. This feeling is perfectly reflected in this beautiful musical version of the story.

As with all the best allegorical tales, the oppressive mood of the fight against eternal evil is heightened by the sometimes comic, sometimes dramatic attempts of the hero to right all the wrongs of the world, and although his efforts at times seem puny and pathetic, the audience is left in no doubt as to the purity of intent that he instils into his self-imposed crusade.

At times both inspiring and thought provoking, the story is both very entertaining and very moving, and will warm the heart of everyone whose spirits were ever raised by the prospect of a victory by the underdog against all the odds.

The score is a musical delight, and contains one of the most moving moments in musical theatre as Don Quixote relates his personal credo in "The Impossible Dream".


Tax collector, soldier, author Miguel de Cervantes and his man, Sancho, are cast into the prison common room by the Spanish Inquisition because they foreclosed on a church in default with its taxes. The thieves and robbers in the prison are quick to descend upon the new arrivals and ravish their possessions.


Cervantes concedes everything but a carefully wrapped package of papers that he begs of the prisoners he should be allowed to win back by convincing them that it is of value only to himself.

The prisoners agree and assist him in dramatising the fantasies of Cervantes' classic character, Don Quixote. As the knight-errant he tilts at windmills and champions an unwilling harlot named Aldonza. To Quixote's "touched" mind she is the fair maiden Dulcinea, and through his kind words and attention she begins to believe in a better way of life. Together with Sancho they band together to rout the muleteers' attempt to torment Aldonza. For his valour Quixote persuades the lord of the castle (the innkeeper) to knight him. It is following this dubbing that the muleteers catch Aldonza alone and brutally assault her. Meanwhile, Quixote's family has sent the daughter's fiancé Dr. Carrasco, to bring Quixote back to his senses and his home. Posing as the Knight of Mirrors, Carrasco succeeds.

Reality is so inhumane that the old man is soon near death. Aldonza has found his home to beg forgiveness for her ingratitude. As Don Quixote, he has brought beauty and warmth to her life for the first time. The old man rallies to Quixote's idealism, but his frail body succumbs in his last moment of triumph. Moved by his story, the prisoners vote that the tale of Don Quixote shall live. They return the manuscript just as Cervantes is called before the Inquisition.


19 Parts - 8 principal. (13 male - 6 female) Plus Chorus

Muleteers, male dancers, a guitarist - the remainder of the company provides strong choral work. Total cast 19-25

Musical Numbers:

  1. The Abduction
  2. Aldonza
  3. The Barber's Song
  4. The Dubbing (The Knight of the Woeful Countenance)
  5. Dulcinea
  6. Golden Helmet
  7. I really Like Him
  8. I'm Only Thinking Of Him
  9. The Impossible Dream (The Quest)
  10. It's All the Same
  11. Little Bird, Little Bird
  12. A Little Gossip
  13. Man of La Mancha (I Don Quixote)
  14. Psalm
  15. To each His Dulcinea (To Every Man His Dream)
  16. What Do You Want Of Me?


Reed 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5: Horn 1 & 2: Trumpet 1 & 2: Trombone 1 & 2: Percussion 1 &2: String Bass: Guitar 1 & 2 (Spanish): Timpani: Piano

Listen to the Music (You will need to have Real Player installed and Java Script enabled - Real Player can be downloaded from here also)


Various cast recordings available