Musical Review: Man of La Mancha

As you enter the space of Astoria Performing Arts Center’s Man of La Mancha, any champion of innovative theater is greeted with that most addictive feeling one can feel in an artistic space: promise. A drab holding cell of the US Border Patrol stands starkly lit, characters—whom we’ve yet to meet—litter the stage, and a lone guitar is plucked expertly by a lead player. These characters, meant to be familiar, are lacking identifying costumery or even their eventual, adopted personas, leaving us to guess who might be portraying whom in this popular tale. Much in the same way, these characters, all with the same dread anticipation and, mostly all, marvelously members of the Latinx community, hold that same curiosity: What story is about to unfold?

This is truly where this production shines; in this spirit of promise and anticipation.

The story of Cervantes’ befuddled hero, Don Quixote of La Mancha, is familiar, and Leigh and Darion’s musical is cherished to all who celebrate the musical theater art form. Tony William II’s production starts strong, presenting audiences with an enticing alternative to the traditionalism that many productions cling to, and quickly dives into the complex and intense.

We all know of Don Quixote, the some-would-call-mad dreamer and Spanish gentleman who fights giants which are merely windmills, dispatches barbers of their shaving-basin helmets, and woos a lowly peasant woman as one would court a princess. In this lovely musical we are invited to see this tale as both told by and performed by the writer of Don Quixote himself, Miguel de Cervantes (played gallantly by JJ Hoss). As Cervantes tells his fiction, we witness the other members of the prison cell transform from despondent to dedicated day players, breathing life to the fanciful story of a man who refuses to accept the grim-dark reality that others demand he see.

In this reworking, the traditional Inquisition-age prison cell is swapped instead for the aforementioned US Border detention cell, and all props and costumery provide a scene reminiscent of a refugee camp. The audience is left, in the end, enthralled from engaging with these immigrants, turned prisoners, and, revealed, most importantly, to be fellow dreaming and yearning human beings. These energized performers—most notably Taïs Szilagi as the fiery and wounded Aldonza/Dulcinea, and Francisco Arcila as the Governor, lead player, and part-time pit instrumentalist—tell this compelling story, but we are still left with many pressing questions: How are these characters within this show within a show being coerced into performing this narrative? What is the fate that awaits these prisoners-turned-players in both their reality and their constructed story? Why is that man shirtless?

The answers can only be sought by attending this enticing production.

Still with all of the questions that come with this story, one cannot help but be wowed by the vocal stylings of the cast. The music of Mitch Leigh deviates strongly from the traditional, western standards of most popular musical theater, offering complex and virtuosic intervals, difficult to discern for those untrained in the cultural stylings of the melting pot that is Spain. Yet—with another nod to Taïs Szilagi and note to our Don Quixote, JJ Hoss—every cast member pulls out the stops, bringing strong conviction and tonal clarity to every number.

It is with great thanks to these performers—lead, again, by JJ Hoss and a, surprisingly quixotic and highly erratic Sancho, played by Anthony Martinez—that this show finds its heart. Each member gives their earnest love and skill in continuing to reel in the audience with their commitment to a story that, in fiction or in present reality, need not remain an impossible dream for anyone who seeks to dream it.

—Erik Schneider

Until February 26, 2022

Thursday–Saturday at 7:00pm | Saturday & Sunday at 3:00pm
At their new home, 44-02 23rd Street in Long Island City

Click here for tickets.
General: $25
Senior: $20 (65+)
Student: $15 (must show ID at the box office)

(For performances Feb. 18–20, use the code FRIEND5 for $5 off.)

Man of La Mancha at Astoria Performing Arts Center

Awaiting trial, deportation, or something worse? Cervantes’ tale of two impossible dreamers held for an unknown crime on trial for their very lives is revived with this bold new production of the Tony Award-winning classic.  

Music by Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by Joe Darion
Book by Dale Wasserman
Directed & Designed by Tony Williams II

Lucia Alvargonzales, Francisco Arcila, Stanley Graham, JJ Hoss, Anthony Martinez, Jay Romero, Taïs Szilagi, Gil Torres
Stage Manager: JoJo McDonald

February 10–26, 2022

Thursday–Saturday at 7:00pm | Saturday & Sunday at 3:00pm
At their new home, 44-02 23rd Street in Long Island City

General: $25
Senior: $20 (65+)
Student: $15 (must show ID at the box office)

Click here for tickets.

The Ones that Didn’t Make It

Some of the categories from the 2021 Survey did not make it onto the EAT, DRINK or DO & SEE pages. The main reasons being that there were too few responses or there were not clear winners. Here are the categories that were left off, and the top responses listed in alphabetical order.

Best Club (Social)
Astoria Horror Club
Astoria Social Darts League
Ladies First Astoria
Queens Rugby Club
Wandering Jews of Astoria

Best Date Spot
Astoria Park
The Bier & Cheese Collective
Break Bar
Burger Village
Diamond Dogs
Heart of Gold
Sweet Afton
The Wolfhound

5th Hammer Brewing
The Gutter LIC

Best Massage
Sonia Maksimovitch

Quintessential Therapy

Best Nail/Beauty Salon
Adriana Milhart
Best Beauty Salon
Dahlia Nails
Eve’s Nail Salon
Faces & Nails
Haus of Wax
Lily’s Nail Salon
Nail Berry
Spa Barlie’s

Best Place to Work or Study
The Bier & Cheese Collective
Burger Village
Corner Spot
Heart of Gold
New York City Bagel & Coffee House
Prince Tea House
Queen’s Room

BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Winners Announced


The BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 winners have been posted! You can see the new winners on the EAT, DRINK, DO & SEE and LOCATION pages. The LOCATION page has them on an interactive map and organized by location. We have a post here with a complete list of all the 2021 winners. And on this post you can see the Winners by the Numbers. This was the first time we expanded every category to include space for LIC, so there were a record number of winners, and since there were fewer responses for LIC, those winners were posted alphabetically. For Astoria, we were able to post those as first, second and third place, as we have done in the past.

We want to congratulate all of the winners, and we would like to thank everyone who filled out the survey (a record number this year). If you filled it out, you may see your write-ups on the site! We also want to thank the following businesses for providing prizes: Astoria Performing Arts Center, The Bier & Cheese Collective, The Bonnie, The Brass Owl, Burger Village Astoria, Compton’s, Heart of Gold, Katch Astoria, OK Café, The Shillelagh Tavern, Taverna Kyclades, Tea and Milk, and The Wolfhound.

Featured BOAST Location: Katch Astoria

Featured-BOAST-Location_KatchWe want to highlight Katch Astoria, which is a Featured BOAST Business on the sidebar of the DRINK page, as well as a BOAST 2021 winner for Best Bar for Sports. If businesses are interested in being a Featured BOAST Location, they can get in touch with us by email ([email protected]), on the CONTACT page or through social.

Winner stickers


Do you know a business that is a BOAST 2021 Winner? We are selling winner stickers and we can be reached at [email protected], through the Contact Form on the website, or through any of our social channels: Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Also… We’re now BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC.

Go out and enjoy, but also stay safe and healthy.

—The BOAST Team

BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Winners by the Numbers

Here are the BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Winners by the numbers. Since we added LIC to every category, there were more winners than ever before.

By Section
25 categories
128 winners

13 categories
57 winners

12 categories
51 winners

Total Categories: 50
Total Winners: 236

By Location
33 – 30th Ave
26 – Astoria-Ditmars Blvd (N/W)
25 – Broadway (N/W)
24 – Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave (7)
19 – Court Square (E/G/M/7)
15 – 31st Ave
14 – Astoria Blvd (N/W)
12 – Steinway (M/R)
10 – Queensboro Plaza (N/W/7)
3 – 36th Ave (N/W)

BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Winners (complete list)

Here is the complete list of the BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Winners. The winners in Astoria are ranked first to third, and the winners in LIC are listed alphabetically since there were so many less responses on the survey for LIC.

Best Outdoor Dining
1. The Bonnie
2. The Bier & Cheese Collective
3. Sweet Afton

Il Falco
Jackson’s Eatery | Bar
Top Quality

Best American Restaurant
1. Burger Village
2. Cronin & Phelan’s
3. Queen’s Room
3. Sugar Freak

The Baroness

Best Bagels
1. Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company
2. New York City Bagel & Coffee House

Bricktown Bagels & Cafe
Pumpernickel Bagel and Delicatessen
We Bagel

Best Bakery
1. Parisi Bakery
2. Martha’s Country Bakery
3. Queens Bake House

Blackstar Bakery & Cafe

Best Brunch
1. The Bonnie
2. Astoria Provisions
3. Mom’s Kitchen & Bar
3. The Shady Lady

The Baroness
Jackson’s Eatery | Bar
Sweet Chick
Top Quality (more…)

Best Organizations or Causes to Contribute To in Astoria and LIC


Before the end of the year, and before we post all of this year’s winners, we wanted to share the results from the BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Survey for Best Organizations or Causes to Contribute To. Thank you to everyone who filled out this survey question. These are in alphabetical order.

First for Astoria:
Astoria Food Pantry (Website, Instagram)
Astoria Music Collective (Instagram, Facebook)
Astoria Mutual Aid (Website, Instagram, Facebook)
Astoria Pug Composting (Instagram, Twitter)
Hour Children (Website, Twitter, Facebook)
LiveOne.TV Studio (Website, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook)
Paul the Cat Guy (Website, Instagram, Facebook)
Queens Together (Website, Instagram, Facebook)
Tikkun BBQ (Instagram)

And for LIC:
ACE Programs for the Homeless (Website, Instagram)
The Connected Chef (Website, Instagram, Facebook)
Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens (Website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)

BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Survey is LIVE


Let us know your favorites in the BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Survey!

The BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2021 Survey is LIVE! The site is

Please fill it out by December 28, 2021, and be sure to add your name and email at the end of the survey for a chance to win a prize. We always appreciate short write-ups with your entries, and please share the survey with anyone who knows and loves Astoria or LIC! Also, this year you can fill out part of the survey, and then come back to it later and make changes until you submit it.

This year we are expanding the survey to include LIC, so each question has space for Astoria (plus write-up) and LIC (plus write-up). We appreciate you filling out as much as you can, but no need to fill out more than you’d like.

Outdoor dining is still very much a thing, so that leads off the EAT section of the survey. There have been a lot of dessert spots popping up, so a new category this year is Best New Sweet Shop. And in the DO & SEE section we wanted to highlight the category Best Organization or Cause to Contribute To.

We hope you have a great holiday season.

Stay safe and healthy,
The BOAST Team

APAC’s PATRONAGE Begins November 12th!



November 12th – November 21st 

There is a suitor; He loves a countess.
There is a writer; She loves someone lost.
There is a countess; She loves words.
She loves them passionately, desperately, and literally.

A new fairytale from award-winning playwright Kati Frazier explores our relationship with the written word, sexuality, and how we learn to love one another properly.
Alexander Cannon, Maggie Cino, Adelaine Mollo
Directed by Tony Williams II

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT! November 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21 at 7:00pm
Matinees on November 20 and 21 at 3pm. Run Time 85 minutes
Playing at APAC, 44-02 23rd Street in Long Island City

COVID safety protocols are in effect. Audiences are required to wear masks and seating accommodated social distancing requirements. Proof of vaccination and ID required. 



Link for tickets here.