Reviewer: Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”
Production: Quixote Nuevo
Theater: The Hartford Stage
Playwright: Octavio Solis
Director: KJ Sanchez
The Howard’s Exhale – “Quixote Nuevo” es extraordinario teatro y Broadway con destino!!
Not an Impossible Dream – “Quixote Nuevo” a reimagining of Cervantes’s novel “Don Quixote”, is an extraordinary triumphant theatrical event that is simply not to be missed at Hartford’s premiere theater – the Hartford Stage, as they open their 2019/2020 season. As we begin, what is promising to be a great year for Connecticut theater, our friends at Hartford Stage are quite literally offering us the “gold-standard”, in this hopefully Broadway bound outing, by award-winning playwright Octavio Solis and starring Sesame Street actor Emilio Delgado as “Jose Quijano”, directed by KJ Sanchez, and produced in association with Huntington Theater Company and Ally Theater, as they present this stirring, though provoking and oftentimes humorous depiction of a “timeworn” hero righting wrongs and coping with a harsh world.
The takeaway – let me do this review in reverse- it is early autumn in Hartford, I have just attended the matinee performance of “Quixote Nuevo” – 2 hours and 30 minutes have slowly, passionately passed. Emotionally, – I am stunned, impressed, awed, blown away by both Solis’s play and seeing a “Tony” worthy performance by Emilio Delgado. Still in my seat, I so eagerly rise at plays end amidst a now all-standing, salvo screaming, ovation lauding audience- they are blissfully cheering not only for this production, but its talented cast and star. Among today’s theater goers, we note a large contingent of our “elders” – survivors of many a struggle. Off to my side, I take heed of an older woman joyfully crying, her husband kisses her cheek and puts his arm around her shoulder. Today’s play has had an emotional impact, not only on our senior population, but on so many – as it deals with ageism, dreams, love, and being a displaced person in your own home.
As stated, “Quixote Nuevo” is a retelling of Miquel de Cervantes 17th century novel Don Quixote- the tale of the “mad” Knight who fought windmills – here it’s a blimp patrolling for illegal immigrants on the Texas/Mexican border. Our setting, Southwest – the modern-day border town of La Plancha, Texas, we are introduced to Jose Quijano, an elderly literary professor who has taught Cervantes’s “Don Quixote” his entire life, now suffering with dementia – confused, forgetful, unable to recognize family, and now seeing delusions- he slowly takes on the guise of “The Knight of Chicanos” and fights for the unemployed, undocumented and those seniors, like himself who would see life’s end in the darkness and uncertainty of an assisted living nursing home. Circumventing, not only family members, but death itself in the form of colorful calacas (skeletons) Quijano’s cross-desert quest reunites him with his trusted squire, Manny Diaz/Sancho Panza (Juan Manuel Amador) as they seek out his lifelong one true love – the beautiful Dulcinea.
“Quixote Nuevo”- has earned the right to the entitled “not to be missed” theatrical event of the year. It certainly has made an impact on those who have had the opportunity to take in this fresh, creative, music driven, humorous thought-provoking and oh-so emotional production. Similar to Pygmalion aka My Fair Lady, The Matchmaker aka Hello, Dolly!, and Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew” aka Kiss Me Kate – one’s thoughts easily turn to how playwright Octavio Solis could further extend this creative interpretation and easily translate his Quixote Nuevo to a new musical version, with a salsa flair – a “Quixote Nuevo – la parte musical dos”!
Applause, kudos and bravos are lavishly extended to both cast and creative partners. Firstly, I join my fellow audience members in taking note of the superb performance of our lead, Emilio Delgado – sir – you were EXCEPTIONAL- we thank you for your artistry and so look forward to seeing you perform Quixote Nuevo on Broadway and eventually taking home a well earned Tony award- Excellent performance. Further kudos to our talented cast of nine, bravo to each and every one of you. As an audience member, we appreciate your hard work and sincere performances. A “Howard Noticed You Award” goes to the talented Juan Manuel Amador as Manny Diaz/Sancho Panza – so enjoyed your humorous and effervescent performance. We also give high praise to the creative team of “Quixote Nuevo” especially to Director KJ Sanchez, Takeshi Kata for scenic design and Rachel Healy for her colorful and eye catching costume designs. As stated – this is the “Gold Standard” of theater right here at Hartford Stage. Enjoy!
Tickets for the Hartford Stage production of “Quixote Nuevo” are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (860) 527-5151 or by visiting http://www.hartfordstage.org. Weeknight and evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances are Saturdays, Sundays and select weekdays at 2 p.m.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.