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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at New York City Opera

By Matt Windman

1950s musical theater is alive and well and living in Manhattan. Right now, you can see Gypsy on Broadway South Pacific at Lincoln Center, Take Me Along at the Irish Rep Theatre , and now Candide at New York City Opera.And while NYCO's Candide , first staged in 1982 is a problematic production, an exceptionally strong cast is bringing it to life like never before.

Only in the best of all possible places, in the best of all possible worlds will Candide be perfect. It's like a Catch 22. To bring life to Leonard Bernstein's, score, which includes gems like Glitter and Be Gay and Make Our Garden Grow, and its spellbinding overture, you need a sweeping orchestra. But to make it dramatically effective, which follows the characters through the Spanish Inquisition, a war, an earthquake, and other catastrophes, you need a small intimate space.

Though Hal Prince staged an intimate, very effective production in 1973, his NYCO production went for the opposite approach and remains a misconceived mess. So overblown that the ensemble sits onstage to watch the show along with the audience. It is also impossible to make a book musical work in the acoustically challenged New York State Theater, where spoken dialogue echoes for days.

But smart casting saves the day. Daniel Reichard, who played Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys, convincingly portrays Candide's fragility, youth and heart. Playing opposite him is Richard Kind, who brings broad comic appeal to the narrator Voltaire, and Lauren Worsham, who plays Cunegonde as a surprisingly street-smart gal in addition to excelling vocally.

Candide marks your last chance to see NYCO before it goes avant-garde under artistic director Gerard Mortier. Perhaps Mortier will bring the reconceived Candide that just premiered in Paris, where it is staged as a TV show and criticizes contemporary political leaders, to NYCO pretty soon.


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