Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Man of La Mancha’: Part 3: Mary Wakefield

In Part 3 of  a series of interviews with the cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s Man of La Mancha, meet Mary Wakefield.

Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on the stage and other roles you may have performed.

Mary Wakefield. Photo by Shealyn Jae.
Mary Wakefield. Photo by Shealyn Jae.

Mary: I am Mary Wakefield. I have been all over the area, but you might have seen me at Potomac Theater as Eliza Dolittle in “My Fair Lady”, Martha in The Secret Garden at Second Star”, and Lady Mary Tudor at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

Who do you portray in ‘Man of La Mancha’ and how do you relate to your character? Does your character remind you of a friend or family member and how?

I play Aldonza, and dear me, I hope she doesn’t remind me of a family member! Joking aside, I feel she is everyone’s journey from childlike innocence into the terrors of adulthood…but in reverse. It is nice to play someone dramatic who is uplifted rather than crushed at the end of a cry-your-eyes-out show.

The musical surrounds one of the most influential characters in Spanish literature, Don Quixote. What do you admire most about him? Which scene or song that he and you perform is your favorite and why?

SPOILERS!!!!! Is there anyone out there that doesn’t know this show?

I love it when Don Quixote dies. Maybe I should say more? When the piano starts into the strains of “Man of La Mancha” as Aldonza is trying to revive Don’s memory, that is so powerful to me. I cry every time. It really touches something in me. 

Mary Wakefield, Fred Nelson, and Alan Barnett. Photo by Shealyn Jae.
Mary Wakefield, Fred Nelson, and Alan Barnett. Photo by Shealyn Jae.

What have been some of the challenges learning and performing your role? And how has Director Daniel Douek helped you with these challenges?

I feel like Daniel and I came from very different places in our interpretation of the character, and we have had some intense moments discussing how a scene should play out. We make it to a place we both feel good eventually. It has been a great experience working with someone who loves your talent and who you respect, but does not share your vision.

What have you enjoyed most about this experience since beginning rehearsals?

I love singing this role. It is challenging and heart wrenching and emotionally draining. Even when I intend to just mark a song through, I end up pouring my heart into it. I love that a role can pull at me so intensely that there is nothing but all-in. In addition, seeing my fellow production members getting teary-eyed on a regular basis, I know I am not alone in this.

The most famous and popular song in Man of La Mancha is ‘Impossible Dream.’ What have been some of your Impossible Dreams, and have these dreams come true?

My Impossible Dream is finishing my Master’s Degree. Ask me again in a couple years if I have made it happen (working on it!)

If you had the opportunity to tweak or change your character, what would you do? If you could re-write the ending of this musical for your character, what would happen now to him/her?

The only thing I would want is one more scene for her between Knight of the Mirrors and the finale. I feel like the hardest part of the character is that her decision to embrace the idea and ideals of Don Quixote happen where we don’t see it. I want the audience to completely understand what made the choice click for her, and that is hard when I go from agonized and hateful to believing in between scenes.

Why do you think Man of La Mancha is still so popular with audiences?

I think everyone needs the dream. We all want to believe that there is a way to be better than we are, and to make the world into a better place. Maybe even to make the world a better place simply by our presence. It hits everyone’s secret soft spot. At heart, we are all men of La Mancha. 

What does Man of La Mancha have to say to modern audiences and what do you want them to take with them after seeing this production?

I think it says that it doesn’t hurt to be kind and idealistic, even in the modern, tough, cynical world. I have very selfish desires of my audience. I want them to weep. I want them to take hearts that have been ripped apart with raw emotion. I want them hurt and hope so much they can’t talk for a moment when they get back in their cars. One can only hope to be that moving to an audience!


Man of La Mancha plays through March 20, 2016 at Laurel Mill Playhouse – 508 Main Street, in Laurel, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 617-9906, or purchase them online.

Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Man of La Mancha’: Part 1: Fred Nelson.

Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Man of La Mancha’: Part 2: Alan Barnett.

Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Man of La Mancha’: Part 3: Mary Wakefield.

Ilene Chalmers’ review of Man of La Mancha on DCMetroTheaterArts.


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