...for Musical Theatre lovers!
Miguel de Cervantes, aging and an utter failure in his varied careers as playwright, poet and tax collector for the government, has been thrown into a dungeon in Seville to await trial by the Inquisition for an offense against the Church.
There he is hailed before a kangaroo court of his fellow prisoners; thieves, cutthroats and trollops who propose to confiscate his meager possessions, one of which is the uncompleted manuscript of a novel called "Don Quixote." Cervantes, seeking to save it, proposes to offer a novel defense in the form of an entertainment.
The "court" accedes and before their eyes, donning makeup and costume, Cervantes and his faithful manservant transform themselves into Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and proceed to play out the story with the participation of the prisoners as Other characters.
Quixote and Sancho take to the road, on "horses" which dance a lively flamenco, singing Man of La Mancha in a campaign to restore the age of chivalry, to battle evil and right all wrongs.
The famous encounter with the windmills follows, but Quixote ascribes his defeat to the machinations of his enemy, the dark Enchanter, whom one day he will meet in mortal combat.
In a roadside inn—which Quixote, spying from a distance, insists to Sancho is really a castle-Aldonza, the inn's serving girl and part-time trollop, is propositioned by a gang of rough Muleteers.
Quixote, arriving at the inn, sees Aldonza as the dream-ideal whom he will serve evermore, singing Dulcinea to her.
Aldonza is confused and angered by Quixote's refusal to see her as she really is.
The Padre and Dr. Carrasco arrive at the inn but on questioning Quixote, are frustrated by his lunatic logic.
They are interrupted by the arrival of an itinerant Barber singing The Barber's Song.
Quixote confiscates the Barber's shaving basin, convinced that it is really the "Golden Helmet" of Mambrino, and is ceremoniously crowned with the aid of the Muleteers and the incredulous Barber.
(Picture from the Spanish 2005 production)
Later, Aldonza encounters Quixote in the courtyard where he is holding vigil, preparatory to being dubbed a knight by the Innkeeper and, questioning him on his seemingly irrational ways, is answered by Quixote in a statement of his credo, The Impossible Dream.
Aldonza has caught the fever of Quixote's idealism but, attempting to put it into practice, is cruelly beaten and ravaged by the Muleteers in The Abduction and carried off.
On the road again, Quixote and Sancho encounter a thievish band of Moors and are robbed of all their possessions in the Moorish Dance.
They return to the inn, only to encounter the disillusioned Aldonza who sings her denunciation of the Quixotic dream in the dramatic Aldonza.
A fantastic figure, the Enchanter disguised as the Knight of the Mirrors, enters and challenging Quixote to combat, defeats him, forcing him to see himself as a pathetic clown.
At home again, the old man who once called himself Don Quixote is dying.
Aldonza, having followed, forces her way into the room, pleading poignantly with him to restore the vision of glory she held so briefly, in the song Dulcinea.
Quixote, remembering, rises from his bed to reaffirm the stirring Man of La Mancha, but collapses, dying. But Aldonza, having glimpsed the vision once more, refuses to acknowledge death, saying, "My name is Dulcinea".
Back in Cervantes' dungeon the prisoners, dregs of humanity though they are, have been deeply affected by his story and restore to him his precious manuscript.
Cervantes is summoned to his real trial by the Inquisition.
The prisoners unite to sing him on his way with The Impossible Dream.