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Recommended! Man of La Mancha

If ever a revival truly revived anything, this is it. Premiering on Broadway in 1965, the musical by Dale Wasserman, Mitch Leigh, and Joe Darion became too big a hit for its own good, sliding past the iconic right into the cliched. Its signature tune in particular, "The Impossible Dream," devolved into a byword for mawkish sentiment as it got done and done everywhere from high-school auditoriums to piano bars. But Nick Bowling's production for Marriott Theatre reminds us, vividly, of a crucial fact: that the actual setting for the song is a miserable holding cell, where Miguel de Cervantes sits among murderers and thieves while awaiting trial before the Inquisition. Accomplished with fluorescent tube lights, prison tattoos, harsh buzzers, and ugly fight choreography, Bowling's emphatic de-romanticizing yields a show that resembles Marat/Sademore than Camelot. A formidable cast led by Nathaniel Stampley, Richard Ruiz, and the marvelous Danni Smith yields intensity.