''I am I, Don Quixote, The Lord of La Mancha, My destiny calls and I go And the wild winds of fortune Will carry me onward, Oh whithersoever they blow Whithersoever they blow, Onward to glory I go!
—Miguel De Cervantes as Don Quixote in the opening number.
A 1965 musical based on Don Quixote, or more precisely, the man behind Don Quixote, author Miguel De Cervantes. One day, he and his faithful manservant are unexpectedly arrested by The Spanish Inquisition. As they await trial, their fellow prisoners put them on trial. With all of his possessions on the line, De Cervantes decides to put on a show as his defense. Care to guess which one?With a little imagination, the dismal dungeon is transformed to rolling hills, as Cervantes and his servant — now none other than Don Quixote and Sancho Panza — set out in search of grand adventures and other derring-do. As they play at their routine, other prisoners take up roles suggested of them. In particular, the angry Aldonza, the Miss Yo-Yo Knickers of the "town," attracts Quixote's interest, and he rechristens her Dulcinea, his noble lady, upon the spot. She is less than amused, but can't help but be intrigued by his idealism... Meanwhile, back at the homestead, the relatives of Alonso Quijana fret about how to save their reputation from the mad fool who's running around the country trying to joust windmills.Part of what makes the musical noticeable is the use of the Show Within a Show being the actual meat of the play. Watching a silly play about a crazy old man and a hooker with a heart of gold is fine in and of itself, but seeing a cell full of corrupt nobles, thieves, and murderers getting lost with themselves in character as they dance around their cell as gypsies makes for a Crowning Moment of FunnyandCrowning Moment of Heartwarming.There was also a 1972 film version starring Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren. It was not received very well.
This show features examples of:
Alternate Character Interpretation: Instead of an insane fool to be mocked as in the original novel, The Man of La Mancha's Quixote is a largely positive character whose adventurous spirit and idealism are a laudable thing in a harsh and cynical world. invoked
Artistic License - Religion: Although setting "I'm Only Thinking of Him" in a confessional, where Alonso Quijana's niece and housekeeper lament in harmony, apparently not aware of the other woman's presence, is a good bit of staging for a comic number, it's not accurate. Catholic priests aren't allowed to hear more than one confession at a time, and certainly not at the time the play is set in.
Break the Cutie: The muleteers do this to Aldonza by gang-raping her. Then, she sings "Aldonza" to try and break Don Quixote as much as she has been broken. And then "The Knight of the Mirrors" just breaks him completely.
And then done again in the darkest possible way with the character of Aldonza — first, "It's All the Same," and then "Aldonza," where she declares bitterly that she is nothing but a hateful, unwanted, absolutely unlovable whore and she deserves nothing better.
Imaginary Friend: In one production this troper saw, Aldonza is not acted out by a cellmate, she simply appears on stage when they start acting, and vanishes when their performance is interrupted — leading to a heartwarming symbolism when, in the finale, when the story is done, she still stays on stage and sings with the prisoners in their cell. As she is no longer a character in their script, but a person in their heart.
Joker Jury: Cervantes is put on trial by his fellow prisoners.
Knighting: Played for laughs in the number, "Knight of the woeful countenance."
Knight in Sour Armor: Don Quixote might be this; he has a skewed perception of the world as a beautiful, marvelous place when it clearly isn't, but he indicates that, even when he knows the world is a dire mess that has little hope of elevation, he will fight on. When he converts Dulcinea to his cause, she becomes a full fledged Knight in Sour Armor.
May-December Romance: Don Quixote instantly fell madly in love with Aldonza. But he is pure and chaste and innocent, and also is completely unaware of how old he is. His infatuation with her manages to be incredibly endearing rather than creepy.
Mood Whiplash: The greatest and most hilarious fight scene ever between Don Quixote, Sancho, Aldonza, and a bunch of drunkards ever! Followed immediately after with Aldonza getting beaten and raped by them offstage. Which is then immediately followed by a hilarious scene between Don Quixote and Sancho running into gypsies. Which is then followed by them running into Aldonza after what happened to her.
The film version, by depicting the play as Quixote would imagine them, invokes Mood Whiplash by having "reality" intrude in the form of cutting back to the prison every so often.
Non-Singing Voice: Don Quixote is played by Peter O'Toole in the film version, but Simon Gilbert sang his songs.
Oddly Shaped Sword: Don Quixote's sword — it ends in an impressive spherical helix, though it is rather second-hand.
Our Acts Are Different: As written, this is a one-act show. However, it can be divided into two acts - the song "The Impossible Dream" provides a good high-pitch moment, and comes nicely in the middle, so it's a good place to cut off Act I — but some directors choose differently.