Theatre Information

Upper Room Theatre Ministry Man of La Mancha

By • Jul 19th, 2012 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
Man of La Mancha
Upper Room Theatre
All Saints Church, Manassas, VA
Through July 22nd
2:15 with intermission
$15/$12 Seniors/$8 Under 18
Reviewed July 18th, 2012

‘I like him…’ With those words Sancho confesses his unwavering devotion for the crazy old “knight” Don Quixote. Man of La Mancha is the 11th summer production by the Upper Room Theatre Ministry of All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, Virginia. Written by Dale Wasserman with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, Man of La Mancha is an infrequently performed story involving love, bravery, and a disagreement with a wind mill.

The cast, crew, and live orchestra gave an outstanding performance on opening night Wednesday. The cast all did a great job of staying in character even when not the focal point of the action. Indeed, as you enter the gymnasium, you are greeted by a huge set, the prison of the Spanish Inquisition. Several prisoners are milling about, and throughout the production, there were always a few extras ignoring the happenings on stage staying in their own little world in their character.

Joey Clem as Miguel de Cervantes/Alonso Quijana/Don Quixote gave an extremely believable interpretation of the kindly prisoner/knight/lover/windmill fighter. A few times he was hard to hear, but what he lacked in diaphragm he made up for in emotion and passion. Cervantes has been thrown in prison, and now must plead his case to the other prisoners, for they have accused him of being an honest man. Cervantes pleads his case by telling a story, transforming the dank prison into an inn, fields, and a forest. As he tells the story, he is transformed from kindly playwright and tax collector into the confused adventurer.

His sidekick and faithful friend Sancho Panza was played by Sean Bartnick. Bartnick was hysterical. Always ready to defend his master, without being too manhandled, the two made a great acting pair. They both seemed quite at ease on the stage and moved well. Bartnick’s scene with Aldonza was hilariouos, with excellent timing for the delivery of the missive.

Most of the action took place (besides in Don Quixote’s mind) at an Inn in Spain. The waitress was an angry woman named Aldonza, whom Don Quixote started calling Dulcinea upon their first meeting. Played by Kara Hollis, the angry young woman kept her dander and her fists up for most of the performance. Her songs were touching when needed, but also angry and resentful about the life she was forced to lead. Aldonza was fun to watch as she slowly came to realize her feelings for the odd knight.

There was quite a bit of detail put into this production as well. The fight scene in act two was well choreographed. The cast had their assignments and timing down great and the movement looked real. Bodies were falling all over the stage! The scene changes were also done well and quickly. Moving from the prison to the Inn was a matter of flipping over some tables and rearranging a few chairs and you had an inn complete with patrons, soup, and drinks. Try to find the many “hidden” entrances on the stage before the show begins.

Don Quixote’s horses were also creative. Using head pieces made from wires allowed for Esther Tenneyson and Jessica Goodman to have something to hold on to, but their field-of-vision was not hindered. Set Designer Rob Tessier used much creativity in the building of the set for Man of La Mancha. The various textures and levels made for a fascinating performing space. Hidden entrances, moving stairwells, a “fire” that smoked throughout the show all combined for an excellent performing space. Lighting director Dan Martin made good use of colors to illicit different moods during the performance. There were a few numbers where the orchestra overpowered the volume of the singers. This may have been a technical problem with the microphone system, but the problem only occurred a few times.

Great songs, a hard-working cast and crew, and a strong but not overpowering orchestra all made for a delightful evening of fantasy, love and of course, the Quest.

Director’s Note

The Christian mystery gives us hope. We are reminded that death is simply a transition to new life, struggle is simply an opportunity to rise above, and those things we cannot see are more essential to who we are than the physical world itself. One who has been blessed with vision is one who can see the goodness of a person where others see sin. Don Quixote stirs each of us to seek treasure where others see trash and to love our neighbor by arousing within them a sense of God-given mission and purpose. Like St. Paul, St Augustine, and so many others, Aldonza serves as an example that even the hardest of hearts can be changed if we allow ourselves to live life as it was meant to be lived because “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, if only you follow the quest.”

Rob Tessier

Photo Gallery

The Company Don Quixote (Joey Clem) & Sancho (Sean Bartnick) on trial
The Company
Don Quixote (Joey Clem) & Sancho (Sean Bartnick) on trial
Don Quixote (Joey Clem) Muleteers
Don Quixote (Joey Clem)
Aldonza (Kara Hollis)
Aldonza (Kara Hollis)

Photos provided by Upper Room Theatre Ministry


The Players of the Inquisition

  • Miguel de Srvantes/Alonso Quijana/Don Quixote: Joey Clem
  • ManServant/Sancho Panza: Sean Bartnick
  • Captain of the Inquisition: Bruce Philips
  • Horse/knight’s Attendant: Esther Tenneyson
  • Horse/Knight’s Attendant: Jessica Goodman
  • Prisoner/Hooded Inquisitor: Elizabeth Hayde
  • Prisoner/Hooded Inquisitor: Marisa Michak
  • Prisoner: Magali Palmer-Young
  • Prisoner: Haylea Wisniewski

The Inn

  • Aldonza/Dulcinea: Kara Hollis
  • Governor/Inkeeper: Patrick Hilleary
  • Pedro, the leader: Johnny Myers
  • Anselmo: Jon Laird
  • Paco: Brennan Penders
  • Jose: Brian Teller
  • Juan: Ronald Ramos
  • Tenorio: Garrick Suemith
  • Maria, the Inkeeper’s Wife: Nicole Kardaras
  • Fermina, Serving Girl: Gabrielle Buonocore

Quijana’s Family

  • Duke/Dr. Sanson Carrasco/Knight o f Mirrors: joe Zapiain
  • Antonia: Jeanne Myers
  • Housekeeper: Christine Laird
  • Padre: Fr. Peter Nassetta

Travelers on The Road

  • Barber: Christian kleb
  • Gypsy Soloist/Hooded Inquisitioner: Amelia Gil-Figuera
  • Moorish Girl/Knight’s Attendant: Kayleen Nagurney
  • Moorish Dancer: Kathryn Blair
  • Moorish Dancer: Hannah Foster
  • Moorish Dancer/”Esta Fuego” solo: Kathryn Knoerl
  • Moorish Dancer/Knight’s Attendant: Maria Zambrana

Production Team

  • Director/Producer/Set Designer: Rob Tessier
  • Music Director: Cathy Drummond
  • Choreographer: Vickie Taylor
  • Vocal Director: Chris Zavadowski
  • Technical Director: John Sledz
  • Production Stage Manager: Jay Wells
  • General Manager: Cathy Sledz
  • Set Director/Sound Consultant: Dale Walsh
  • Costume Director: Kelsey Kleb
  • Lighting Director: Dan Martin
  • Sound Director: Harry Post
  • Properties Manager: Jennifer Branly
  • Scenic Art Directors: Bernadette Wunderly & Monica Loesel
  • Assistant Technical Director: Andrew Heller
  • Deck Stage Manager: Brian Sledz
  • Assistant Director: Karen Kelleher
  • Assistant Costume Directors: Mary Myers, Lizzie Rogers
  • Assistant Props Manager: Elizabeth Perretta
  • Assistant choreographer: Teresa Elmore
  • Accompanists: Brian Nagurny and Peter Kadeli
  • Calling the Show: Robin Dalusung
  • House Managers: Jane Carroll & Veronica Rollins
  • Concessions Director: Myra Hayde
  • Publicity Director: Janis DeVore
  • Assistants to the Tech Directors: Tucker Stroh & Robbie O’Brien
  • Make-Up& Hair Director: Nocole Kardaras
  • Scenic Art Consultant: Candace Penders
  • Poster Design: Matt Moore
  • Program Designer: Joan Lopacki


  • Music Director: Cathy Drummond
  • Trombone: Chris Carroll
  • Bass: Justin Christian
  • FluteL Kathryn Dagley
  • Guitar: Ken Hall
  • French Horn: Sarah Howe
  • Oboe: Jane Hughes
  • Trombone: Wil Humphries
  • Trumpet: Shaun Hydock
  • French Horn: James Kyle
  • Bassoon: Andrew Loerch
  • Flute/Piccolo: Claire Loerch
  • Timpani: Keil McMurray
  • Saxophone: Mike Morch
  • Drums: Phil Quinan
  • Trumpet: Dave Russell
  • Percussion: Melanie Waddy

Disclaimer: Upper Room Theatre Ministry provided four complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College.