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Dream Weaver 

Classic literary hero rights wrongs -- with show tunes!

Man of La Mancha’s protagonist definitely has a few screws loose. But his ballad-filled battles with windmills, mule drivers, and mirrors provide rich dramatic action in the popular musical, which opens at the Cleveland Play House tonight. The story centers on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, which is recounted by a madman awaiting trial during the Spanish Inquisition. “It’s about how one man confronts the horror of the world he’s living in,” says director Amanda Dehnert.

The play-within-a-play features the author himself as the main character, who proceeds to cheer up a dungeon full of fellow prisoners with his swashbuckling tale. It’s a tricky mix, but one that’s expertly staged and set. “The world around them is too awful to bear,” says Dehnert. “In order to do something about it, [Cervantes as Don Quixote] sets off on a quest to right wrongs, defend the defenseless, and generally confront evil wherever it may be.” Classic songs like “The Impossible Dream” and “What Do You Want of Me?” guide the way, but this is Quixote’s show. Dehnert thinks audiences will relate to the 17th-century hero. “We’re living in very difficult times,” she says. “I hope people will come away with a little piece of Don Quixote awakened in their hearts.”
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Sept. 14. Continues through Oct. 7, 2007

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