MITCH LEIGH Composer of MAN OF LA MANCHA Passes at 86


As Man of La Mancha was the first show my dad ever took me to, it is sad to report that the show’s composer passed away today at age 86.  Because of my dad, I had the privledge of seeing Man of La Mancha with Richard Keily and Joan Deiner during its first major revival tour at the O’Keefe Center in Toronto.  It also became the first show I produced (and one of the few that made money) way back in 1987.   I have found a few YouTube clips of  my production with the great J.C. Enos as Don Quitoxte and Felicia Fink as Aldonza.  Crude sets I must admit but the talent speaks for itself.

Born Jan. 30, 1928 in Brooklyn, NY, Leigh first penned incidental music for the Broadway productions of Too True to Be Good in 1963 andNever Live Over a Pretzel Factory in 1964. Following a premiere at the Goodspeed Opera House, Leigh’s musical Man of La Manchaopened on Broadway in 1965 and went on to win five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Man of La Mancha, which features lyrics by Joe Darion and a book by Dale Wasserman, ran for 2,328 performances on Broadway and spawned productions across the world. The production’s rousing anthem “The Impossible Dream” became an enduring classic.

Leigh’s other Broadway scores included Cry for Us All, Sarava, Chu Chem and Ain’t Broadway Grand. In addition to his scores, Leigh also staged Yul Brynner’s farewell appearance inThe King and I in 1985.