By Bessy Reyna
Talia Thiesfield is back home in Connecticut! This time to perform the role of Aldonza -- Quixote’s love object Dulcinea- in the popular musical Man of La Mancha opening September 7 at Ivoryton Playhouse. Based on Cervantes’ 17th century fictional masterpiece Don Quixote, the play follows Quixote and Sancho during their adventures. Talia Thiesfield is not the only one connected to Connecticut when it comes to this particular show.
Man of La Mancha was first commissioned and produced by Goodspeed Musicals. In 1965 Goodspeed commissioned inspired by the TV adaptation of Don Quixote, to create what is now the 5 Tony award-winning show Man of La Mancha. And the rest is history. The show made popular the song “The Impossible Dream.” Aside from Thiesfield, the cast includes David Pittsinger, as Don Quixote, and Brian Michael Hoffman as Sancho Panza. The play has been translated into Japanese, Swedish, Spanish and many other languages, and was made into a movie with Sophia Loren as Aldonza and Peter O’Toole as Don Quixote. There have been two successful Broadway revivals in 1977 and 2002.
Known to Connecticut audiences, Thiesfield is both an actress and singer whose career has taken her to perform many different types of roles, from an innocent to a prima-donna. Her experience in productions in many of the best known national stages, has taken her from Lincoln Center in NYC, to being cast in TV and movie roles, as well as appearing in the popular TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live. Her work has been recognized by the L.A. Times and other papers. Having graduated from UCONN School of Fine Arts, she continued her studies in California where she obtained her MFA.
(Photo: Talia Thiesfield)
Latina Actress Return home
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The Storyteller's Art
If you think of an Irish storyteller, a seanchi, the first image that might come to mind is that of a grizzled man wearing a cloth cap sitting in a pub, a pipe in one hand and a pint in the other, regaling the lads with stories of banshees. What you probably wouldn’t imagine is a lithe and lovely, raven-haired lass with a pixie haircut and a twinkle in her blue eyes, but that is Helena Byrne and she is, indeed, a seanchi.
Byrne recently arrived in the States for a brief tour that brought her to Quinnipiac University at the behest of the university’s Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, which is currently closed for renovations. Thus, Byrne found herself facing an eager audience, many of them with Irish heritage, at the Rocky Top Student Center on the York Hill Campus.
Before her performance, Byrne sat down to talk about the road that has brought her to Quinnipiac as a seanchi and her love of Irish mythology and folktales. It seems Byrne was bitten early by the “performing bug,” for as she notes on her web site, she has been performing since she was “knee high to a guitar.” She laughed and explained: “As a child I used to put little shows together and force my parents and my brother and sisters to sit down and watch a whole rigmarole, an hour of ‘entertainment.’ I’ve just been performing for as long as I can remember, always singing.”
Articles of Interest:
Blogs and Websites of Interest
Blogs about Connecticut theater, movie reviews, and the arts.
OnStage - Theater Opinion & Discussion
Pillow Talking Blog
Joe's Views -- Joe Meyers' Blog
Artes Magazine -- fine art, architecture, design and theater
Back Stage Buzz - current and archived interviews with CT artists
susangranger.com -- movie reviews
CT Arts Connection
WMNR Fine Arts Radio (Rosalind Friedman's Review)
www.courant.com/curtain (Frank Rizzo reviews)
www.reflectionsinthelight (Lauren Yarger reviews)
www.nytheaterscene.com (Irene Backalenick/David Rosenberg reviews)
Stu On Broadway -- Reviws and comments
Two on the Aisle -- NYC and Connecticut Theater News and Reviews