Mitch Leigh, ‘Man of La Mancha’ composer, dies at 86

By Daniel S Levine,

Mitch Leigh, who went from writing jingles to composing one of the most acclaimed Broadway musicals of all time, Man of La Mancha, has died. He was 86 years old.

Leigh died on Sunday from pneumonia and complications from a stroke, assistant Lisa Maldonado told The Associated Press. A memorial is set for Monday in Manhattan.

Man of La Mancha was one of the biggest successes on Broadway, running from 1965 to 1971, reports The Washington Post. The show included the classic song “The Impossible Dream (The Quest),” which was performed by singers from Frank Sinatra to Placido Domingo.

The show’s original run included 2,328 performances and earned five Tony nominations. It has been revived four times since and Peter O’Toole starred in the 1972 film version. The book was written by Dale Wasserman with lyrics by Joe Darion.

Leigh never matched the success of La Mancha. While he continued to compose for the stage, his follow-ups all closed early. His last original production, Ain’t Broadway Grand, closed after just three weeks in 1993.

Still, he did find a role on Broadway as a director of other writers’ shows. He earned a Tony nod for directing Yul Brynner in the 1985 production of The King and I.

He is survived by his wife, Abby Leigh, their two children and a son from a previous marriage.

image courtesy of Amazon

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