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No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

centerstage reviewed this performanceReviewed by Centerstage!Go Chicago!

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL 60601-3205 Map This Place!Map it

Leonard Bernstein


Related Info:
Official website

Runs September 17, 2010-October 24, 2010

Friday8 p.m.
Saturday8 p.m.
Sunday2 p.m. (Some evening shows)
Wednesday7:30 p.m.
Thursday7:30 p.m.

Recommended a "Must See" Show

Bernstein. Sondheim. Hellman. "Candide" was created by some of the best minds in showbiz. It should be a musical masterpiece, but it's kind of a brilliant mess. Can the addition of one more genius help this nearly classic show achieve its full potential? Mary Zimmerman, queen of the stunningly staged problem play, might just be able to pull it off.

reviewed performanceCenterstage Show Review
Reviewer: Lisa Findley
Wednesday Sep 29, 2010

Voltaire understood that the best way to get at the fundamental questions of life is to show just how absurd life is. The Goodman's production of Leonard Bernstein's musical adaptation of "Candide," helmed by director Mary Zimmerman, perfectly captures this spirit.

Candide (Geoff Packard) grows up on his uncle's estate in Westphalia, where he learns from his philosophizing teacher Pangloss that they are living in "the best of all possible worlds." Even when he is kicked out of his uncle's home for kissing his cousin Miss Cunegonde (Lauren Molina), conscripted into an army, nearly hanged by the Inquisition, and robbed of all his wealth, Candide clings to this optimistic outlook. He encounters the same characters again and again, engaging in philosophical debates while experiencing numerous horrors. Zimmerman's direction shines as she juxtaposes absurd action with serious conversation. In one scene, Candide fights his way through a slow-motion game of catch with cannon balls in a sharp commentary on war. In another, Candide and the newly resurrected Pangloss roll about on stage as their ship sinks, discussing all the while whether this is still the best of all possible worlds.

Aside from the wonderful singing, the rapid pace of the play is its greatest strength, so it is too bad it drags almost every time narrators step on stage. They are meant to move us from one scene to the next, but too often they describe action we have already seen.

The ensemble shines marvelously, with fine turns especially by Hollis Resnik (Old Woman) and Jesse J. Perez (Cacambo). By the end of the play the main characters have worked through religious, philosophical, political, and social woes, and they come to the true end of a satire in the moving song "Make Our Garden Grow" an exhausted recognition of, if not what is true in this world, at least how to live in it.

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