Pec Playhouse stages musical

Pec Playhouse Theatre will be holding open auditions for its summer musical, Man of La Mancha, which will be performed nine shows July 29-Aug. 14. This 1965 play won five Tony Awards on Broadway, including Best Musical, and contains some popular and well-respected music of the genre, including “The Impossible Dream” and “Dulcinea.”

This play-within-a-play is a poignant story of Miguel De Cervantes, a failed playwright and poet, dying as an old man in a Seville prison awaiting his trial by the Inquisition. His fellow prisoners, in a makeshift kangaroo court, propose to confiscate his incomplete manuscript of a novel called Don Quixote. Cervantes proposes to perform the story as his defense and to keep the manuscript. The “court” agrees, Cervantes transforms himself into Don Quixote, and with the help of his faithful servant Sancho, with the prisoners, plays out the story.

The play is under the direction of Mark Kann, long-time Pec Playhouse Theatre volunteer, who had most recently directed last season’s Yes, Virginia, There is s Santa Claus, and this season’s special production of Escanaba in da Moonlight. Man of La Mancha is a departure for Kann as well as for Pec Playhouse. The tone of this show is much darker, almost so much that patrons will be advised the show may not be suitable for younger children.

For Pec Playhouse, the show does not involve the usual scurrying of set pieces between scenes, as the show takes place entirely in the prison. Still, other challenges face Kann and his cast. As the prisoners each take part in the play that Cervantes is acting out in his defense at his mock trial, the actor will have to be fairly adept at creating two or more characters to tell the story. Choreography will also be different from the types of musicals often performed in the past. It is also planned to have a live pit orchestra providing the music as has been done in the past. For Kann, the task at hand is to effectively manage the time the actors put into a show. “So many times I’ve heard how actors are required to attend a rehearsal, only to find there’s nothing really for them to do,” says Kann, who has appeared in many productions as an actor, many times in musicals, and sees things from an actor’s perspective as well. “With gas prices as they are and since we’re fairly rural in location, I want to make sure I make the best use of everyone’s volunteer time.”

Auditions are scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, May 21, 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday May 22, and 7 p.m., Monday, May 23, at their theater at 314 Main St. in Pecatonica. Additional information can be found online at, or by calling the box office at 239-1210. Roles are available for 12 men and eight women. There are no children’s roles.

Those interested in auditioning should bring something prepared to read and sing, preferably from the show, but not necessarily. Appointments are also suggested, but not required, and anyone interested in becoming involved with the show, either on stage or off, should contact Mark Kann at 800-208-9189 or 815-395-1650.

From the May 18-24, 2005, issue

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