Candide Magnificent

I promised a critique on my seeing Candide yesterday at the Goodmen Theater in Chicago and here it is:

Simply wonderful. I really did not expect it to be as entertaining as it was, as colorful and as funny. I knew the music from listening to the original cast album from my childhood and was delighted that every song was included in this production. But I have to add that the spectacle itself was magnificent.

What I found amazing was how perfectly all the voices worked together. All the main singers have magnificent voices, as was to be expected, but the chorus and all the secondary characters were also brilliant. And they all meshed.  Credit for that must go to music director Doug Peck.

The set was amazing, it doubled as a ship, Venice, Westphalia, the jungles of South America, the mythical kingdom El Dorado, just about everywhere in the world Candide’s travels and travails took him. The theater is just 10 years old, so the set was able to do many electronic things an older stage wouldn’t be able to.

Some of the reviews claimed it was a bit too long at 3 hours, but my attention never wavered, not once, I felt the time race by. There was always something moving, funny or eye-catching going on.

There are so many funny bits that were added, both in the characterizations but also what was happening elsewhere onstage. For example, the way war was shown was having background actors throw large soccer-ball-sized brown balls that looked like cannonballs back and forth at each other.

Another highlight for me was a fight scene done in slow-motion, both actors wonderfully controlled, with facial contortions and all. Beautifully choreographed.

Director Mary Zimmerman has again done a wonderful job.

I saw the matinee performance with two friends and we decided after we’d left the theater that we should have staged a sit-in, stayed in our front row balcony seats and seen the evening show as well. We all wanted to see it again and again.

So if you’re in Chicago and love musicals, satire, gorgeous costumes, a magnificent set and excellent voices, go see Candide at the Goodman in Loop. Assuming you can get tickets.


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