Man of La Mancha cast relishes brilliant performance before sellout crowd

Tony Violanti
Tony Violanti

The “Man of La Mancha” cast was in an ebullient mood in the Savannah Center lobby Wednesday after a triumphant performance before a sellout crowd.
“I’m glad it’s done; everyone in this production was exceptional,” said Alex Santoriello, the former Broadway performer who directed and starred in the KC Productions musical.
The show runs through Saturday, and performances on Thursday and Friday are already sellouts. Some tickets remain for two shows on Saturday.
Santoriello seemed to inspire this cast in a remarkably engaging and emotional production. The audience roared with approval at the end with a long, standing ovation. Afterwards, the lobby was mobbed with actors and well-wishers.

Alex Santoriello hams it up after the show with Joan Knapton of KC Productions.
Alex Santoriello hams it up after the show with Joan Knapton of KC Productions.

Santoriello, who played Cervantes/Don Quixote,  was asked how he managed to pull out such a performance from the actors.
“I didn’t have to pull anything out of this cast,” Santoriello said. “They’ve got the talent and they showed it tonight.”
There was some special inspiration for Santoriello. He dedicated the performance to his late mother, Joan. He sang “The Impossible Dream,” — her favorite song — with an almost spiritual grace.
Dawn DiNome seemed to reach a career turning point on this night playing Aldonza/Dulcinea.
“I just wanted to bring honesty to this role,” DiNome said after the show. “I had a hard time figuring out this character. It didn’t happen all at once, but it finally all came together.”
One reason was Santoriello.
“Listen, Alex can be a pain, but I’ve learned so much working with him,” DiNome said. “He is an awesome teacher and an awesome talent.”
Sam Rosalsky was outrageous and funny as Sancho Panza. One cast member commented that Rosalsky was born to play Sancho.

Dawn DiNome brings Aldonza to life.
Dawn DiNome brings Aldonza to life.

“I enjoy Sancho and I’ve played him before,” Rosalsky said. Something else impressed him.
“I think everybody in this production understands what it means to be a professional on stage,” Rosalsky said. “You have to work hard and be serious.”
Bob Petrucelli is best known for his comedy roles in The Villages. On this night he played Pedro, a vicious Muleteer who beats and assaults Aldonza.
“This was different for me and I enjoyed playing the bad guy,” Petrucelli said. “Alex deserves a lot of credit. He can be tough, because he wants you to extend yourself. When push comes to shove, Alex makes you feel you can get it done.”
Billie Thatcher, who played the housekeeper, saw the original “Man of La Mancha” cast when she was a kid back in the late 1960s.

Man of La Mancha scene with, from left, Bob Petrucelli Alex Santoriello, Sam Rosalsky, Jim Kitzler and Dave Olsen
Man of La Mancha scene with, from left, Bob Petrucelli Alex Santoriello, Sam Rosalsky, Jim Kitzler and Dave Olsen

“I just feel so lucky to be a part of this show and a part of ‘Man of La Mancha,’” Thatcher said. “This play and the people in this cast mean so much to me. It’s a joy to be a part of it.”
Producer Joan Knapton of KC Productions summed up everything this way: “This was a wonderful night and I’m proud of everybody.”

Tony Violanti covers entertainment for Villages-News.com

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