IMPOSSIBLE DREAM from MAN OF LA MANCHA
Broadway_To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless,
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest
And the world would be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star _The book was by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh: one song, “The Impossible Dream”, was particularly popular.
Man of La Mancha started its life as a non-musical teleplay written by Dale Wasserman for CBS’s Dupont Show of the Month program. This original staging starred Lee J. Cobb. The Dupont Corporation disliked the title Man of La Mancha, thinking that its viewing audience would not know what La Mancha actually meant, so a new title, I, Don Quixote, was chosen. Upon its telecast, the play won much critical acclaim.
Years after this television broadcast, and after the original teleplay had been unsuccessfully optioned as a non-musical Broadway play, director Albert Marre called Wasserman and suggested that he turn his play into a musical. Mitch Leigh was selected as composer. The original lyricist of the musical was poet W. H. Auden, but his lyrics were discarded, some of them overtly satiric and biting, attacking the bourgeois audience at times.
The musical first opened at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut in 1964. Rex Harrison was to be the original star of this production, but soon lost interest when he discovered the songs must actually be sung. Michael Redgrave was also considered for the role.
The play finally opened on Broadway on November 22, 1965. Richard Kiley won a Tony Award for his performance as Cervantes/Quixote in the original production, and it made Kiley a bona fide Broadway star, but the role went to Peter O’Toole in the less-successful 1972 film. O’Toole, however, did not really sing his own songs; they were dubbed by tenor Simon Gilbert. All other actors in the film, however, from non-singers such as Sophia Loren, Brian Blessed, Harry Andrews, and Rosalie Crutchley, to Broadway musical stars such as Julie Gregg and Gino Conforti, did do their own singing. The only member of the original cast to reprise his role in the film was Conforti, repeating his hilarious portrayal of the amazed barber, whose shaving basin is mistaken by Don Quixote for the Golden Helmet of Mambrino. Although the bulk of the film was made on two enormous sound stages, the use of locations was much more explicit – Don Quixote is actually shown fighting the windmill, while onstage this had been merely suggested by having Quixote run offstage to agitated music, and then crawl back onstage a few seconds later, with his lance broken and his sword twisted. The film was produced and directed by Arthur Hiller, and photographed by Federico Fellini’s frequent cinematographer, Giuseppe Rotunno, with musical and fight staging provided by Gillian Lynne.
The play has been run on Broadway five times:
1965 – 1971 original production, opened November 22, 1965 with Richard Kiley as Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote and ran for 2,328 performances. John Cullum, José Ferrer, Hal Holbrook, and Lloyd Bridges also played the roles during this run.
1972 – revival, Richard Kiley as Cervantes and Quixote.
1977 – revival, Richard Kiley as Cervantes and Quixote, Tony Martinez as Sancho Panza and Emily Yancy as Dulcinea.
1992 – revival, Raúl Juliá as Cervantes and Quixote, Sheena Easton as Dulcinea.
2002 – revival, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Cervantes and Quixote, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Dulcinea, Ernie Sabella as Sancho Panza.