When: Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 6
In the musical Man of La Mancha, nothing is quite what it seems. Miguel de Cervantes, a man who has failed at several careers, ends up in prison courtesy of the Spanish Inquisition. The other prisoners want to rifle through his belongings, but the leading prisoner suggests a trial instead, with the old man relinquishing his goods if he's found guilty. Cervantes' defense takes the form of a play within the play, in which he becomes a sixteenth-century nobleman who has gone mad and thinks he's Don Quixote, knight errant. The prisoners become actors within the play, all joining to tell a story that implies following one's dreams leads to happiness and true freedom, but the dream of all prisoners is to regain their freedom, isn't it? Worlds within worlds, actors in several plays at once — it's a trick mirror of a show. Stages St. Louis closes its season with Mitch Leigh, Joe Darion and Dale Wasserman's extended parable about the power of dreams and the horrors of reality. Man of La Mancha is performed Tuesday through Sunday (September 6 to October 6) at the Robert G. Reim Theatre (111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood; www.stagesstlouis.org). Tickets are $25 to $65.