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Miguel de Cervantes' "Man of La Mancha", based on the novel written in two parts by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, first in theatres throughout the Western world. The 16th-century work by Cervantes (1547-1615) has been called arguably the most influential book in all of Western civilization-which might be a stretch, still, a strong and viable case can be made for this tale of an idealistic man fighting against the corruption and prejudices of a world gone mad. Written in the picaresco style of the late 16th century-pervasive in both English and French novels as well, it has been widely adapted to screenplays, staged dramas, and film versions-all of which utilize little more than a few parts and truths of the original novel, but somehow the overall theme endures, and, more importantly, is not slighted by being so varied in each adaptation, often differing somewhat from Cervantes' artistic intent. It is at once both a paean to the Age of Chivalry, and on the other hand, a satiristic farce-very "tongue in cheek"-credit the brilliant author! Seeing it performed on stage the evening of Friday July 23rd by The Lake Country Players in Mineola reminds one of how popular a choice this drama is, even for "amateur" or "community" theatre groups. The Lake Country Playhouse, a.k.a. The Select Theatre, makes a wonderful venue for such an expansive performance. Couple that with the vast experience that Mike Holbrook (who plays the title role) and his cast and crew possess, and it was predictable that a thoroughly enjoyable evening was in store for my "B.W." and I, along with Jim & Elayne Hayes from Holly Lake Ranch.
Let it be known that the Lake Country Players, their organization being over twenty-five years old, are the sine qua non of the wide-ranging gaggle of community theatre players in East Texas, and their experience certainly shone forth in what amounted to a near-flawless rendition of Cervantes' biographical epic. Directed credibly by Tim Michiner, who has been affiliated with the LCP since 2006, the action was made to flow, with no obvious missed lines; the action scenes, as when Don Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza, played with humorous zest by the lively little Wesley Johnstone, were wonderfully staged-some of the movements during the fight scenes, had they not been rigorously rehearsed, might have even caused injury to the players! Johnstone's Sancho Panza was the glue, the driving, humorous force, that kept the play moving "on down the line"-a study in fluidity, as it were. Kudos to his bringing Sancho to life!
Though all the titled characters performed magnificently, special notice must be given to Elizabeth Stricklin for her twin roles of Dulcinea-the object of Don Quixote's fixation on chivalry-and Aldonza, lusty barmaid-charwoman, who is abused by her innkeeper boss and whose hope and zest for life Don Quixote strives so hard to restore. Ms. Strickland literally lights up the stage, with her looks, gestures, and magnificent vocal talents. A lady seated behind us informed the writer that Ms. Strickland, in addition to performing and directing, has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., earning "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" in the Irene Ryan acting competition. In addition, she has been a finalist in the Miss Texas pageant, performs with the Dallas Theatre Center, and is a member of the Tyler Coterie of performers.

The above characters and actors have been singled out for special praise, but in point of fact, the entire cast and crew, as well as the lighting technicians, deserve recognition for making the show "come off" in the best possible light. It was hard to believe, in some moments last night, that we were watching an amateur community theatre performance!
The hard work and professionalism of the Lake Country Players played ever so well to a sold-out theatre. We look forward to their next production, "The Miracle Worker", which will be directed by Ms. Stricklin, and will go up on September 17th.
"Ars Gratia Artis"
by Steve H Kehoe, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it