EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University will present “Candide, A Musical Comedy,” featuring composer Leonard Bernstein’s operetta-flavored score, show-stopping arias and timely political issues.
Performances will be held on the Evanston campus at 8 p.m. Feb. 10; 8 p.m. Feb. 11; 2 p.m. Feb. 12; 8 p.m. Feb. 15; 8 p.m. Feb. 16; 8 p.m. Feb. 17; 8 p.m. Feb. 18; and 2 p.m. Feb. 19, at the Ethel M. Barber Theatre, 30 Arts Circle Drive.
Based on Voltaire’s “Candide,” a wicked 18th century satire on the then-prevailing philosophy of optimism, and adapted by Hugh Wheeler. The dark musical comedy follows the story of the young and innocent hero, Candide, and his friends as they survive a string of misfortunes and disastrous adventures, while continuing their optimistic search for the “best of all possible worlds.”
In addition to Bernstein’s music, “Candide, A Musical Comedy” will feature a dilapidated carnival stage setting to “convey the seedy underbelly of deception and desperation” with a giant spinning wheel of fortune, abstracted carnival costumes, and a lot of fierce political bite.
“The story has seen so many incarnations that each time it is produced it seems to change to reflect the times,” said Jon Berry, who will direct the production. “Voltaire had a lot to write about in the mid 1700s with France’s repressive political climate and the strong hand of the Catholic Church. Bernstein and Lillian Hellman wrote their stage adaptation in the middle of the McCarthy hearings and the original libretto satirizes the trials themselves.”
Berry said the musical speaks to our current political situation by skewering the idea that there is a single, universal truth to live by, in which everything that happens is for the best. “This idea that everything happens for the best creates a situation where nothing is questioned and everything, no matter how deplorable, is accepted in service of the greater good,” said Berry.
He hopes the audience will walk away with the notion that in spite of the current state of this world and how dark it appears, there is still a tremendous amount of hope in humanity and in the human capacity to love.
Tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for students. To order tickets by phone, call (847) 491-7282.