Stage

To Dream the Impossible

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two shows at Springfield’s Symphony Hall this weekend represent classic points on the entertainment spectrum: the Broadway musical and the variety show. Todd Oliver & Friends combines a number of variety-act staples. Oliver is a ventriloquist with a rock band and a dog act. The cast includes woodenheads Pops, Miss Lilly and Joey—two cute codgers and a teenage troublemaker— along with talking dogs Irving and Lucy (both rescues—the act includes a pitch to adopt pets instead of buying) and the four-piece Smiling Eyes band. “A lot of audience participation segments, original music, and outrageous comedy” is promised.

Man of La Mancha has been a musical theater staple since its Tony-awarded five-year run on Broadway in the ’60s, including numerous revivals and a 1972 film version. Set during the Spanish Inquisition, it frames the story of Don Quixote, that deluded but visionary would-be knight, as a tale told by its author, Miguel de Cervantes, to his fellow prisoners while awaiting his fate at the hands of the Inquisitors. The quixotic quest for “the impossible dream” thus becomes a metaphor within a metaphor for the triumph of the spirit over humans’ cruelty and folly.

Todd Oliver & Friends: March 21, 7:30 p.m., $20-25;

Man of La Mancha: March 23, 7 p.m., $27-$58.50, Symphony Hall, 34 Court St., Springfield, (413) 788-7033, symphonyhall.com.

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