Geyer Center to close season with 'show that started it all'
The Geyer Performing Arts Center will close its 25th season with a show that was last seen on the theater's stage 25 years ago.
GPAC will present the “Man of La Mancha” Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
“This is the show that started it all and it seemed the best way to end our theatrical season this year,” said GPAC Board President Brad Geyer.
The “Man of La Mancha” is a classic musical based on Miguel de Cervantes' masterpiece “Don Quixote,” which he wrote in the 1600s. The story is told as a play within a play, where the story of a dying old man whose impossible dream takes over his mind is told by an imprisoned Cervantes in an attempt to regain papers that had been taken from him by his jailers.
The show features several moving songs, including “It's All the Same,” “Dulcinea,” “I'm Only Thinking of Him” and “The Impossible Dream.”
“It's a show about hope, a show about dreams and about believing in people and the good that is in all of us,” said Kristen Tunney of Brownsville, who will play Aldonza.
Tunney is one of two actresses who will play the prostitute who Don Quixote sees as his Dulcinea, a lady to whom he has sworn his loyalty.
“She begins as a prostitute and then goes on this tremendous personal journey through the show and that is what drew me to the character. I would say she has the biggest journey as a person than any other character in the show,” Tunney said.
Christina Maroney will return to the GPAC stage after a six-year hiatus and play the role of Aldonza.
“After a period of having two new additions to the family with them now being 4 and 2, I wanted to come back. I missed performing. It was missing from my life,” she said.
This will be the first time either actress has played the role.
“This part has been one I have wanted to do for years. It's intense and an emotionally charged character, a challenge,” Maroney said. “The hardest part I would say is the music. It's a much higher range than I'm used to.”
The show, which is directed by Michael Rohlf, with Brad Henry as music director, has Roger Rhodes of Mt. Pleasant and Ron Hudson Jr. of Uniontown sharing the role of Don Quixote.
Rhodes and Maroney will take the leads on Thursday and Saturday with Hudson and Tunney performing the roles on Friday and Sunday.
Mark Fox of Scottdale will reprise his role of Quixote's squire, Sancho Panza.
“Everybody needs a Sancho. He never questions Don Quixote and no matter how crazy he gets, he is just always his friend,” Fox said.
Fox played the role when the show was last seen on the GPAC stage 25 years ago. He said he will be recreating the role so it will be different from when he performed it in 1988.
Fox laughed that some of the cast, including Tunney were not yet born the last time he played Sancho.
“The younger folks really bring a lot of great energy to the stage,” he said.
The villain of the show, Dr. Sanson Carrasco, is played by Chet Joseph of Youngwood.
“He must discredit Don Quixote and make him come to the realization that he is not a knight and bring him back to the real world,” Joseph said.
Joseph has appeared in about six plays at the GPAC but this is his first musical. “This is my biggest, most complicated role since coming to the theater,” he said. “The dialect of the era has been a real challenge.”
Tunney, who is also the theater manager, said that for the Saturday night performance the organization has invited anyone who appeared in the original cast to come to the show and be recognized. A special reception will follow the show that evening, along with the debut of a retrospective documentary recently produced by GPAC on the past 25 years.
Tickets for the show are $12 and available online at www.geyerpac.com or by calling 724-887-0887. Dinner theater is available by calling Miss Martha's Tea Room at 724-887-6574.
Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.