Kelly Critic review: ‘Man of La Mancha,’ Avonworth High School

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The Kelly Critics is a joint program of the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals, in which students at Kelly schools review musicals at other Kelly schools.

Disaster struck Avonworth’s “Man of La Mancha” on its second to last show on April 12. The first blow came with R108, the seat that placed me directly behind an elderly woman with hair modeled after "The Simpsons’ " Marge.

With the curtain of Act I came the second tragedy. As intermission was coming to a close, the fire alarm sounded, causing all spectators to be rushed outside, although in the end, it was an unfortunately timed accident. “Avonworth’s first,” as the director said laughing as she made an announcement to the crowd of viewers outside.

However, these mishaps were not enough to take away from the brilliance of Avonworth’s performance. From the very start, the orchestra’s music overwhelms the audience as the curtains open. There the viewers witness a magnificent set with detailed and life-like props. This includes a two-story drawbridge that lowers into the prison where spectators first meet Miguel de Cervantes, played by Ethan Simmons. Wonderfully cast, Simmons has a voice that draws in the audience, compelling them to listen as he transitions flawlessly from Cervantes to Don Quixote.

Billy Molinan, who plays Cervantes’ servant, Sancho Panza, successfully brings this character to life, inducing the laughter in the crowd that was intended with his silly voice and dancing. But not only were Sancho’s jokes leaving the audience hooting, Padre, played by David Schlosser, and the Moorish girls he gives advice to, had everyone guffawing.

Last, but certainly not least, Aldonza, or as Don Quixote liked to call her “Dulcinea,” played by Jessica Keast, had the voice of an angel. But her angelic voice was not to fool the audience, as Aldonza is first portrayed as a bitter soul who does not think much of the world. Jessica captures her anger and her hurt, all the while letting the showgoers see glimpses of the more optimistic person she becomes.

Although I had to dodge the woman’s hair in front of me and the second half was delayed, the show flowed seamlessly together as it ensnared the audience with a wonderfully told story.

Reviews are edited by senior theater critic Christopher Rawson. more high school musicals coverage, go to and scroll down.

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