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.”