Children’s Theatre’s ‘Girl of La Mancha’ takes modern twist

Cast members of The Children’s Theatre production of “The Girl of La Mancha,” as their cosplay characters are fourth row, from left, Lillian Mandalas (Sasha), Giovanni Harding (Simon Carrasco), Kalise Thompson (Baroness Burrito), Gabriel Quinene (Gnut), Avery Young (Canker) and Michaela Spangler (Obsidian). Third row, from left, Olivia Francis (Gandaldore), Evie Snyder (Donna), Lorelai Mack (Wonder Woman) and Olivia Lindquist (Darkness). Second row, from left, Manuel Nieves (Officer Bob), Adam Waltzer (Penguin), Clare Quinene (Zombie) and Jude Quinene (Alonzo). First row, from left, Aiden Waltzer (Puddles), Sarah Stewart (Anna from “Frozen”), Noelle Snyder (Machu Picchu) and Regina Guerrero (Minnie Mouse). (Submitted photos/Carol-Ann Harding)

DOVER – “Girl of La Mancha,” a loose, modern take on Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” takes the stage this weekend courtesy of the The Children’s Theatre Inc.

In this adaptation, protagonist Donna Quixote attends a cosplay convention at a local shopping mall where she temporarily loses her memory and shenanigans ensue. It’s filled with pop culture, comic book and gamer references.

The show contains characters such as Wonder Woman, Minnie Mouse and Anna from “Frozen.”

In the play, Simon Carrasco makes a bet with a Goth girl, Darkniss, that he can restore Donna to reality. The play also promotes heartfelt messages about idealism and acceptance of others.

“It’s a lot of fun since I play Donna while she’s sane and while she isn’t, so it’s practically two different roles,” said Evie Snyder, 14, of Dover.

“I get to go from being this normal girl to fighting windmills at Harry Putter’s Magical Mini-Golf.”

Noelle Snyder is Machu Picchu from “Pokemon” in the cosplaying universe of “The Girl
of La Mancha.”

Evie has been acting with The Children’s Theatre for six years. She’s one of the veterans, as about one third of the cast is new to the group.

Assistant director Amanda Harding is a Children’s Theatre alum, having starting acting with the group when she was 10 years old. At 22, this is her second time assisting.

“We thought that this would be a great show to bring some new kids into,” Amanda said. “Part of the show is about cosplay, which is something that a lot of kids are already familiar with. So I don’t think it was as intimidating as some other shows could have been.”

Aiden Waltzer, 10, of Dover, is one of the first-timers Amanda knew would be a great fit.

“My mom found out about it and that it’s about cosplay which I already like. It’s fun for me, so I decided to audition,” he said. “It’s been fun to meet so many new people and I know that shows make people happy so I’m happy that I’m going to make the audience happy.”

Goth girls, from left, Avery Young (Canker), Olivia Lindquist (Darkness), Michaela Spangler (Obsidian) plot their evil plans against Donna Quixote, the title character from “The Girl of La Mancha.”

Adam Sahraoui, 11, of Townsend, is also a first-time actor who was encouraged to audition by his sister who has been acting with the group for four years.

“I do cosplay so I knew this would be fun and I get to be someone really different than myself and it’s great because it’s a really whimsical comedy,” he said.

With new actors, there’s a lot of instruction that goes along with the usual process of learning lines.

“It can sometimes be a little difficult to keep this dynamic — equal parts learning and fun, but with a script like this and with kids who love the cosplay premise, it’s been pretty easy making sure auditions are fun for everyone,” Amanda said.

The newcomers also have plenty of experienced castmates helping them along.

“I remember what it was like when I first auditioned and the show that I was first in, so I’ve let them know they can talk to me and that actually performing isn’t going to be as scary as it might seem now,” said Clare Quinene, 12 of Milford, cosplaying as a zombie.

All the actors went into auditions without a particular character in mind.

Evie Snyder as Donna Quixote has some words with Olivia Francis as Gandaldore.

“It’s kind of interesting because we don’t go in auditioning for a specific role,” said 15-year-old Avery Young of Dover. “We read for a few different parts and it’s always cool when you get cast to see which part they thought you’d play best and this time it’s really fun because my character is pretty much the opposite as me.”

Avery plays a goth girl along with Olivia Lindquist, 15, of Dover, and Michaela Spangler, 14, of Dover.

“We are all so different from our characters and it’s fun that we get to do something so different together,” Olivia said. “For me, one of the best parts of the Children’s Theatre is meeting new people and having a bonding experience. And in this case, it’s a show we can definitely laugh at together.”

“Girl of La Mancha” takes the stage at the Schwartz Center for the Arts on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 and available online at Eventbrite.com or at the door.

The Schwartz Center for the Arts is at 226 S. S. State St., Dover.

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