Saturday, January 22, 2005

Did you see the new Great Performances version of "Candide"?

Cross-posted on FMT's blog.

Great Performances recently aired a staged concert version of Leonard Bernstein's "Candide",starring Kristen Chenoweth as Cunegonde.

I'm wondering what other folks thought.

I thought they went a bit too far into schtick. So much so that it was hard to be very emotionally invested in any of it.

"Candide" reminds me of "Into the Woods." These are essentially fairy tale characters to whom some very real, tragic things happen. There are many humorous songs, there are also some songs of yearning and lamentation.

when I saw the original Broadway cast of "Into the Woods" they captured something that really noproductio since has done as well: they played their characters absolutely real. No mugging. No schtick. Not to say these were low-key performances, but they were committed, real performances. So, in the second act when all the bad things started really felt it. It makes the second act. If you don't feel for these characters as real people in the first act, the second act seems interminable and whiny.

"Candide" is somewhat the same.

Kristen Chenoweth continues to impress. She manages to play huge, yet (most of the time) real. Patti LuPone as The Old Lady can pull of that delicate combination pretty well too.

The opera singers? No way. They do sing absolutely beautifully, but their attempts to act seemed almost painful to me.

And they certainly weren't helped by the direction. Exactly what does it serve to have Candide packing up a roller-suitcase during his Lament? It's just a cheap joke. As is the Donald Trump caricature and other modern references that just don't help.

Of course, I have a thing about that, as I mentioned in my recent review of "Once Upon a Mattress."

So, am I just a cranky purist, or did anyone else feel that the material was not served by the adaptation and direction?

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