'Candide' at Chicago's Goodman Theatre

October 13, 2010 (PRESS RELEASE) Goodman Theatre is celebrating its 10th season in Chicago's North Loop Theatre District with a fresh take on an enduring masterpiece-- Candide. The revival of Voltaire's effervescent adventure is newly adapted and directed by Chicago's own Mary Zimmerman, the Goodman's Manilow Resident Director. A cast of 19 and an orchestra of 12, under the direction of Music Director Doug Peck, bring to life nearly 30 songs in Leonard Bernstein's score and recreate Voltaire's satirical story of Candide --a young optimist shipwrecked, soldiered, swindled and separated (repeatedly) from his true love, Cunegonde. "Candide is exquisite entertainment, a blend of opera, comedy, travel adventure and romance," says Zimmerman."Its gorgeous music and lyrical wit act as proof of the very best potential of human beings and the beauty of this life--while at the same instant, the story is revealing some of the worst and most difficult aspects of that life."

For this major revival, Tony Award-winner Zimmerman has tapped her signature design team--Daniel Ostling (Set), Mara Blumenfeld (Costumes), T.J. Gerckens (Lighting) and Richard Woodbury (Sound). Danny Pelzig is the choreographer.

"Mary Zimmerman's reinvention of Candide represents, to borrow a phrase, 'the best of all possible worlds'!" said Goodman (www.goodmantheatre.org). Artistic Director Robert Falls. "Her singular insight and vivid imagination--as we've seen in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Journey to the West, The Odyssey, Pericles and three highly successful productions for New York's Metropolitan Opera, among many others--distinguish Mary as a leading contemporary adapter of classic texts. I am thrilled that she is now bringing her unique artistry to this funny, insightful and irresistibly theatrical wor--a glorious way to launch our 10th anniversary on Dearborn Street."

Candide chronicles, in lightning-fast progression, the story of a young man banished from his home, drafted into the Bulgarian army and forced to endure relentless disaster. Voltaire's satiric genius is found in Candide's earnest attempts to trivialize the tragedy and uphold the contention of his mentor, Dr. Pangloss, that all things happen for the best in this 'best of all possible worlds'. Although Candide's journey is described with humor, Voltaire raises serious questions: How can mankind deal with disaster without surrendering to despair? Can optimism prevail in a world that frequently seems randomly cruel? How is survival itself possible in an environment that often gleefully refutes Pangloss's hopeful axiom?

The cast of Goodman Theatre's Candide features Geoff Packard in the title role; Lauren Molina as his princess love, Cunegonde; Larry Yando as Candide's mentor, Pangloss; Hollis Resnik as the Old Lady; Jonathan Weir as the Governor; Erik Lochtefeld as Maximillian; Margo Seibert as Paquette; Jesse J. Perez as Cacambo and Tom Aulino as Martin. Ensemble members include Spencer Curnutt, Rebecca Finnegan, Govind Kumar, Rob Lindley, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Emma Rosenthal, Thomas Adrian Simpson, Joey Stone, Tempe Thomas and Joseph Tokarz

The Goodman has extended Candide through October 31; performances are in the Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago. For tickets and information, call 312.443.3800, click GoodmanTheatre.org or visit the box office. Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10 am online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone. 10Tix are $10 mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10 am online on the day of performance; 10Tix are not available by telephone. Valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets. Limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted Group Tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820.

About Mary Zimmerman's Adaptation

Few modern musicals have enjoyed the extensive exploration and reexamination that Candide has in the years following its 1956 Broadway debut. Mary Zimmerman, "a specialist in literary spectacle (from whom) theatrical fireworks are expected" (The New York Times), has opted to create a new book for this production by returning afresh to Voltaire's original 1759 Candide, Or Optimism. She has ordered the sequence of events in Candide's adventure--many of which had been altered for previous productions—to align more closely with the novella's original structure.

Music Director Doug Peck has tailored Bernstein's score for the cast of 19 and orchestra of 12, "wrapping the music around Mary's adaptation, blending Bernstein and Voltaire in a way that emphasizes them both." Audiences will be treated to such popular songs as "Candide Overture," "The Best of All Possible Worlds," "It Must Be So," "I Am Easily Assimilated," "We Are Women," "My Love," "Quiet," and the heartfelt finale, "Make Our Garden Grow." Bernstein's score reflects a variety of classical influences, including Mozart and Verti ("Auto-da-fé"), Gilbert and Sullivan ("Bon Voyage"), Gounod's Faust ("Glitter and Be Gay") and even Schoenberg ("Quiet").

"With Candide, Bernstein composed something wholly unusual; the singing style is more complex and challenging than most musicals," said Peck, who bases his orchestrations on those used in the Royal National Theatre's production, and uses underscoring for scenes that Zimmerman selected from the novella but that were never set to music.

About Leonard Bernstein and the History of Candide

"There is more of me in that piece than anything else I have ever done." (Leonard Bernstein, on Candide)

The idea for musicalizing Voltaire's novella came to Bernstein and playwright Lillian Hellman in the midst of the anti-Communist Congressional purges of the early 1950s; both agreed that the political excesses of 18th century France mirrored the assault on individual rights that they were experiencing. Collaborating with lyricist John Latouche, Hellman and Bernstein began work in 1954, eventually involving young poet Richard Wilbur as lyricist, and Dorothy Parker and James Agee contributing to the book, as well. Candide premiered on Broadway in 1956.

The show's cast recording attracted a cult following among musical theater aficionados, but few new productions were attempted until 1974, when director Harold Prince created a new version of the show for Brooklyn's Chelsea Theater Center. Hugh Wheeler created a new book which emphasized the loopy humor of Voltaire's satire. In 1982, again under Prince's direction, the New York City Opera presented a greatly expanded Candide, and Prince revived Candide on Broadway in an opulent 1997 production. A year later, British director/playwright John Caird created another new version of the show for a production at London's Royal National Theatre. Although Bernstein's score remained intact, both Sondheim and Wilbur provided slightly revised lyrics for some songs. A 2004 semi-staged New York Philharmonic concert version starred Kristin Chenoweth as Cunegonde and Patti LuPone as the Old Lady. In honor of the show's 50th anniversary in 2006, Candide was revived at Paris' Théâtre du Châtelet and at La Scala in Milan.

Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was a world-renowned musician, conductor and composer throughout his entire adult life. He was Music Director of the New York Philharmonic and conducted the world's major orchestras, recording hundreds of these performances. His books and the televised Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic established him as a leading educator. His compositions include Jeremiah, The Age of Anxiety, Kaddish, Serenade, Five Anniversaries, Mass, Chichester Psalms, Slava!, Songfest, Divertimento for Orchestra, Missa Brevis, Arias and Barcarolles, Concerto for Orchestra and A Quiet Place. Bernstein composed for the Broadway musical stage, including On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide and the immensely popular West Side Story. In addition to their West Side Story collaboration, Bernstein worked with choreographer Jerome Robbins on three major ballets, Fancy Free, Facsimile and Dybbuk. Bernstein was the recipient of many honors, including the Tony Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Theater, 11 Emmy Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and the Kennedy Center Honors.

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