A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “M” is for MAN OF LA MANCHA


Man of La Mancha, the 1964 musical adapted from a non-musical teleplay (1959) Don Quixote, which was inspired by the 17th-century work Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, tells the story of knight Don Quixote, and is a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. Joe Darion (lyrics), Mitch Leigh (music), and Dale Wasserman (book) conceived the 1964 musical. 

The show debuted on Broadway in 1965 and ran for 2,328 performances. It won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical has played in many other countries around the world, with productions in Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Icelandic, Gujarati, Uzbek, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Swahili, Finnish, Ukrainian and nine distinctly different dialects of the Spanish language.

Rex Harrison (of My Fair Lady fame) was to be the original star of Man of La Mancha, but the music was too demanding for him. Richard Kiley won a Tony Award for his performance as Cervantes/Quixote, and it is Kiley who sings “The Impossible Dream” here.

Bonus! In another musical by Stephen Sondheim, Merrily We Roll Along is based on a 1934 play by the same name. The show ran for only 16 performances but it was the starting point for a 20-year-old named Liz Callaway. Here’s Liz with her sister Ann Hampton Callaway, singing “Our Time.”

20 thoughts on “A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “M” is for MAN OF LA MANCHA

  1. As a freshman in high school, I worked on this play in the stage crew. It was a lot of fun and this play is still one of my favorites. …..”I tilt at windmills; for they may be giants!” (Great quote-great Band). Great Post M!


  2. Richard Kiley is from Chicago and is a graduate of Loyola University, like Mary and me. When I graduated, he was doing “Man of LaMancha” in Chicago, and there were rumors he would be giving the comencement address. He wasn’t, of course; we ended up with a boring Jesuit who talked too long… Beautiful voice, though…


  3. Martha, I did listen again as I worked on a cross-stitched sampler for my soon-to-be-born grandson. Once more I cried, literally, as I heard Richard Kiley sing “I, Don Quixote.” Tilting at windmills, trying to make his ugly world a little better.
    And Joan Diener, spitting out the lyrics to “Aldonza.” ”
    Born on a dungheap to die on a dungheap.”

    You have shown me the sky,
    But what good is the sky
    To a creature who’ll never
    Do better than crawl?

    Of all the cruel bastards
    Who’ve badgered and battered me,
    You are the cruelest of all!
    Can’t you see what your gentle
    Insanities do to me?
    Rob me of anger and give me despair! Blows and abuse
    I can take and give back again,
    Tenderness I cannot bear!
    And to hear her sing “Dulcinea” at the end, her beautiful soprano soaring, soaring!
    Heartbreakingly beautiful.
    Thanks for the memories.


  4. My father, his cousin Bobby and I did a memorable performance of Man of La Mancha on the beach in Maine. Dad was Don Q, Bobby was Sancho Panza, and I was Dulcinea. I think I was 8…I had no idea what most of the words I was singing meant, but I loved Dulcinea’s songs!


    1. “Man of La Mancha” is at the top of the list of my favorites. While I like Rex Harrison, Richard Kiley IS Don Quixote. Of course he is best know for the signature song, “The Impossible Dream,” but it is “Dulcinea,” where he sees not the whore but the lady, that tears my heart out. Just thinking about him signing it brings a lump to my throat.
      The lyrics to these songs, the serious and the amusing, are unmatched for beaty and, well, lyricism.
      Thanks for the memories. I must pull out my CD today and play it as I stitch!
      Happy Easter to you, Martha.


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