Candide June 3-11

June 3-11, 2017

Cahn Auditorium, Evanston

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“The best of all possible worlds!”

Take Voltaire’s timeless satire on the follies and foibles of the human race, add a score by Leonard Bernstein of West Side Story and Wonderful Town, and you get Candide — a madcap circus of a show. Indulge in Glitter and Be Gay, Make Our Garden Grow, the famous Candide overture and other musical gems.
Ages 12 and older

With 23-piece orchestra

The Royal National Theatre Version
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book adapted from Voltaire by Hugh Wheeler
In a new version by John Caird
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
With additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Leonard Bernstein

Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 8 pm
Sunday, June 4 at 2 pm
Wednesday, June 7 at 2 pm
Friday, June 9 at 8 pm
Saturday, June 10 at 8 pm
Sunday, June 11 at 2 pm
Tickets start at $34
Age 25 and younger 1/2 price (suitable for 12 and older)

Order Tickets
Or call (847) 920-5360


Musical Excerpts


The many voices of Candide

By Michael Kotze

Considering the talent involved, it seemed the 1956 Broadway premiere of the new musical Candide could not miss. The book was by one of America’s most esteemed playwrights, Lillian Hellman, whose The Little Foxes was already considered a modern classic. Musical tornado Leonard Bernstein, equally at home on the podium of the New York Philharmonic and on the Great White Way, wrote the score.

Bernstein had On the Town and Wonderful Town under his belt, and his next Broadway musical looked to be his most exciting yet, with a top-drawer team of lyricists, including poet Richard Wilbur, Broadway veteran John La Touche and Algonquin Round Table wit Dorothy Parker. To top it off, the production was to be staged by possibly the most acclaimed director of the day, Tyrone Guthrie.

So much talent—such high hopes! And then, Candide opened to mixed reviews, and closed after just 73 performances, a two-month run. In his review, influential critic Walter Kerr wrote “Three of the most talented people our theatre possesses—Lillian Hellman, Leonard Bernstein, Tyrone Guthrie—have joined hands to transform Voltaire’s Candide into a really spectacular disaster.”

What went wrong?

It has been customary to pin most of the blame on Hellman’s book, but perhaps Dorothy Parker was right: “There were too many geniuses involved.” It was Hellman who first had the idea of bringing Voltaire’s short, sharp shock of a novel to the stage. In the story of young naïf Candide, clinging to optimism as he is flung from catastrophe to catastrophe, Hellman found “laughter, wisdom, comment, satire and bite.” She also found a parallel between Voltaire’s targets and the sacred cows of her own time: “I thought of it as an attack on all rigid thinking, on all isms.”

Hellman first conceived Candide as a play with incidental music, but when she approached Bernstein with the project, his enthusiasm for turning it into a full-scale musical won her over. As work progressed, Hellman struggled to find the right structure for her adaptation, going through 14 different versions in the process. Had she stuck to her original plan, she might have found a more fleet-footed way of turning Voltaire’s sprawling narrative into an effective stage piece. As it was, no one was ever satisfied with her book, least of all Hellman.

Glitzy trainwreck

By all accounts, Guthrie’s production was spectacular, with lavish sets and costumes, but lacking the light touch that might have alchemized all that lead into gold. Guthrie later admitted, “My direction skipped along with the effortless grace of a freight train heavy-laden on a steep gradient.”

Bernstein’s music was the one element of Candide that emerged with universal praise. Even Kerr’s pan included this: “Once the air has cleared a bit, I imagine Mr. Bernstein will come off best…” Everyone acknowledged the score was brilliant, but its brand of brilliance was not the kind selling tickets on Broadway in the winter of 1956. Two long-running hits had opened in the two weeks before the Candide premiere: Bells Are Ringing and Li’l Abner. The near-operatic Candide is certainly the odd man out compared to these works of Broadway pop-craft.

Columbia Records released an original cast recording, which documents all of Candide’s assets and none of its liabilities. Anyone listening might well find it difficult to believe the show was a flop. As all the problems surrounding the 1956 production faded from memory, the album kept the music of Candide firmly in the picture.

The quality of the score led to many attempts to bring a new and improved Candide to the stage. During the next decade or so, performances followed in London, Los Angeles and Chicago, but none redeemed the show’s reputation from that of merely a cult favorite.

A Princely musical comedy

That changed in 1973 when Harold Prince staged a radically revised version with a new book, some new lyrics, and a whole new attitude. Where the original production presented Candide as a kind of grand operetta, the new Candide was pure musical comedy.

One doesn’t associate Lillian Hellman with musical comedy; indeed, after years of being portrayed as the villain of this story, she finally withdrew the performance rights to her Candide book, thus ending what she called her “most unpleasant experience in the theater.” British playwright Hugh Wheeler, who had provided the book for Prince’s most recent Broadway hit, A Little Night Music, was brought on board to create a new libretto, sometimes fitting the old Candide numbers into new dramatic contexts. Stephen Sondheim provided some new lyrics, including a very effective new opening sequence.

Prince’s production, abetted by Wheeler’s book, made Candide into a hit at last; it was a high-energy, immersive staging with the nonstop action taking place on platforms throughout the theater in and around the audience. A hit at the Chelsea Theatre in Brooklyn, Prince’s Candide quickly transferred to Broadway, where it ran nearly two years. An expanded version was devised for the New York City Opera and later traveled widely, including a stop at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

It would seem the curtain could be drawn on a happy ending. But, ah, the course of Candide’s adventures, like those of its protagonist, never did run smooth. Prince and Wheeler had turned Candide into a bona fide Broadway hit, but at what cost? A great deal of great music had been jettisoned, and much of which remained had been rearranged and redistributed (Bernstein had given this re-do his blessing, but had no part in its making). The musical prodigality that had been a hallmark of the piece had been decidedly compromised.

Worse, many thought Wheeler’s book betrayed the spirit of Candide, both Voltaire’s and Bernstein’s. To be fair, Wheeler did find a viable solution to a seemingly intractable problem (and was rewarded with the 1974 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical). Even so, the esteemed Broadway historian and critic Ken Mandelbaum, while admitting that Wheeler’s book “worked well with Prince’s informal, intermissionless, and giddy staging on Broadway,” comparing it with the Hellman original found it “in no way an improvement; in fact, it’s less funny, substituting camp and leers for wit.”

That “Scottish operetta”

The conductor and Bernstein protégé John Mauceri, who had been the music director of the 1973 revival, later wrote “This Candide had turned into one long joke. The heart, the tears and the faith—all clearly part of Voltaire’s reason for writing Candide—were nowhere to be found in the post-Lillian Hellman versions. Also, the music was all out of order.” In the late Eighties, Mauceri set to work on yet another edition of Candide, based on the Wheeler book but downplaying the shtick, while honoring Bernstein’s musical intentions. It was first produced by the Scottish Opera in 1988, and has been the basis of many productions at international opera houses.

A decade later, the Royal National Theatre in London presented a new production directed by Royal Shakespeare Company mainstay John Caird who, in his pursuit of a more authentic theatrical realization of Voltaire, provided his own substantial reworking of the book, managing at the same time to adhere to Bernstein’s musical structure as advocated by Mauceri. Both Richard Wilbur and Stephen Sondheim contributed revisions of the lyrics. In his review of Caird’s production in The Spectator, critic Sheridan Morley, after recounting the musical’s four decades of outrageous fortune, stated, “But now, at long, long last, we have it as damn near right as we are ever likely to get it.” (This is the version MUSIC THEATER WORKS will present in June at Cahn Auditorium.)

I concur. Other adaptors have continued to grapple with Candide (including Mary Zimmerman at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2010), but in my four decades (!) of Candide-going, this is the most satisfying I have seen, balancing Voltaire’s mercurial savagery with the undercurrent of warm humanity that Bernstein’s music demands, a remarkable feat of dramatic tightrope walking.

Is there another Broadway musical as extravagantly packed with brilliance as Leonard Bernstein’s Candide? Since its 1956 premiere, that brilliance has proved to be both a blessing and a curse, but now, more than 60 years after the pandemonium of its creation, we can safely say the curse has been lifted, and what remains is a blessing.


Candide was first presented by LIGHT OPERA WORKS on December 30, 1982, directed by Philip A, Kraus and conducted by Barney Jones. The second production opened August 14, 2004, in a co-production with Pegasus Players. It was directed by Lara Teeter and conducted by Lawrence Rapchak. The current production opens June 3, 2017, directed by Rudy Hogenmiller and conducted by Roger L. Bingaman.

Balcony Talk

For 10 years, audience members have enhanced their appreciation of MUSIC THEATER WORKS productions with business manager Mike Kotze’s lively behind-the-scenes look at the show they’re about to see. He’s our resident expert on all things music and theater!

Join Mike for fun facts about Candide on any of these dates:

Sunday, June 4 • 12:45 pm
(doors open 12:30)
Saturday, June 10 • 6:45 pm
(doors open 6:30)
Sunday, June 11 • 12:45 pm
(doors open 12:30)

No need to RSVP—just attend (even if you have tickets for a different performance).


Click either photo to view and download a larger image.

Leonard Bernstein’s Candide plays at
Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works),
Cahn Auditorium, Evanston, IL ,June 3-11, 2017.

Photo credit: Rich Foreman

Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works)
presents Leonard Bernstein’s Candide June 3-11, 2017,
at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston.

Photo credit: Rich Foreman


To come


Contact: Christopher Riley
Director of Audience and Press Services
(847) 920-5354 ext. 10 (press only)


MUSIC THEATER WORKS presents CANDIDE June 3-11, 2017

Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works)

The Royal National Theatre Version
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book adapted from Voltaire by Hugh Wheeler
In a new version by John Caird
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman,
Dorothy Parker and Leonard Bernstein
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller
Choreographed by Clayton Cross
Conducted by Roger L. Bingaman

Press Opening – Saturday, June 3, 2017, at 8 pm
Sunday, June 4, at 2 pm
Wednesday, June 7, at 2 pm
Friday, June 9, at 8 pm
Saturday, June 10, at 8 pm
Sunday, June 11, at 2 pm

Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston, IL

Tickets start at $34. Ages 25 and younger half-price.
(847) 920-5360 •

Evanston, IL: Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works) presents the Leonard Bernstein classic, CANDIDE, based on Voltaire’s satire on the follies of the human race, at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, June 3 through 11. A 24-piece orchestra accompanies the well-known songs “Glitter and Be Gay,” “The Best of All Possible Worlds” and “Make Our Garden Grow.”

CANDIDE is directed by Music Theater Works artistic director Rudy Hogenmiller, conducted by music director Roger L. Bingaman and choreographed by Clayton Cross.

The cast includes Gary Alexander (Voltaire/Pangloss), Ben Barker (Candide), Cecilia Iole (Cunegonde), Emily Barnash (The Old Woman), Billy Dawson (Maximilian), Abby Murray Vachon (Paquette) and Russell Alan Rowe (Martin).

The design/production team is Adam Veness (scenic and technical director), Alexa Weinzierl (costumes), Andrew H. Meyers (lighting), Aaron Quick (sound), Mary Zanger (stage manager) and Katie Beeks (production manager).

CANDIDE is sponsored by The Pauls Foundation, with additional support from the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. The opening night reception is sponsored by Prairie Moon Restaurant in Evanston.

CANDIDE is Music Theater Works’ first production of 2017. The season will continue with GYPSY (August 19-27), the concert performance DUKE ELLINGTON’S GREATEST HITS (October 6-15) and PETER PAN (December 23-January 1, 2018).

Discounted season ticket packages are still available.

Ticket prices for CANDIDE begin at $34. Ages 25 and younger are half price. To order tickets, or for more information, call the Music Theater Works box office at (847) 920-5360 or order online 24 hours a day at

Director/Music Director/Choreographer Biographies

RUDY HOGENMILLER (Director), artistic director of Music Theater Works, has directed and choreographed many productions for the company including DIE FLEDERMAUS, LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU: JULE STYNE’S GREATEST HITS, MAME, MY FAIR LADY, GUYS AND DOLLS, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE FANTASTICKS, THE MERRY WIDOW, COLE PORTER’S GREATEST HITS, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, H.M.S. PINAFORE, OLIVER!, MAN OF LA MANCHA, CAMELOT, BRIGADOON, HELLO, DOLLY!, THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, KISS ME, KATE, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE MIKADO and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Hogenmiller was seen on stage in 2014 as Mr. Applegate in DAMN YANKEES, and as the Emcee in CABARET in 2013. He has been recognized with six Joseph Jefferson Awards and 17 nominations for best direction and choreography in Chicago, and has been a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers for more than 35 years.

ROGER L. BINGAMAN (Music Director and Conductor) conducts the 24-piece orchestra. Bingaman made his first appearance on the Music Theater Works podium in 1997, conducting THE MERRY WIDOW. Since then he has conducted many productions, including DIE FLEDERMAUS, MAME, MY FAIR LADY, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE FANTASTICKS, CABARET, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, H.M.S. PINAFORE, OLIVER!, CAMELOT, THE STUDENT PRINCE, BRIGADOON, HELLO, DOLLY! CAROUSEL, and THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, as well as THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE MUSIC MAN, IOLANTHE, GIGI, OKLAHOMA!, BITTER SWEET, KISS ME, KATE, 110 IN THE SHADE, NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY and BEAUTIFUL HELEN OF TROY. Bingaman has been director of the apprentice program and chorus master for the Sarasota Opera since 1998.

CLAYTON CROSS (Choreographer) choreographed MAME, MY FAIR LADY and GUYS AND DOLLS at Music Theater Works, where also played the Mute in THE FANTASTICKS and was a featured dancer in DAMN YANKEES. Cross served for five years as artistic advisor, board member and choreographer for Renegade Dance Architects, and continues to consult and contribute choreography to the Capitol One Bowl’s ALL AMERICAN HALFTIME SHOW. He is a master teacher for M.A. Dance, a Texas-based traveling convention circuit, where he has worked and judged for the past 17 years. Throughout his 20-year career as a dancer, Cross has worked with Robert Battle, Fernando Bujones, Frank Chaves, Paul Taylor ,and Ann Reinking. He was featured in EVERY DANCER HAS A STORY, a PBS special about the River North Chicago Dance Company, where he was a company member for nine seasons and toured nationally and internationally. Originally from Midland, Texas, Cross received his early training from La Petite Dance Company, Coleman Academy, and the Midland Community Theatre. He holds a BFA in ballet and modern dance from Texas Christian University.

Cast Biographies

GARY ALEXANDER (Voltaire/Pangloss) has appeared in eight Music Theater Works productions including CARNIVAL!, THE STUDENT PRINCE and 2004’s CANDIDE (as Maximilian). Recent engagements include THE BOOK CLUB PLAY at 16th Street Theater, 15 productions for ShawChicago, most recently MISALLIANCE and JEEVES INTERVENES, and A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Drury Lane Oakbrook. He has performed in several shows for The Shakespeare Project of Chicago (where he created and directed SPOOKY SHAKES for the Chicago Cultural Mile Association). At the Ravinia Festival he was seen in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, ANYONE CAN WHISTLE and the revue THE MUSIC OF RODGERS AND HART. Other credits include BINKY RUDICH at the Goodman Theater, VIKINGS and MIRANDOLINA at Noble Fool, and appearances at Piven Theatre, Rising Moon and Stage Left. TV and film credits include CHICAGO FIRE and THE PRINCE AND ME 2.

BEN BARKER (Candide) is making his Music Theater Works debut. A graduate of Northwestern University, he has been seen at Marriott Theatre in SPRING AWAKENING (Moritz) and OCTOBER SKY (O’Dell), Paramount Theatre in LES MISERABLES, Porchlight Music Theatre in SWEENEY TODD and Writers Theatre in ARCADIA. Regional credits include Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE COMEDY OF ERRORS and RICHARD III and the Palace Theater in the Dells’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

CECILIA IOLE (Cunegonde) is making her Music Theater Works debut. She was recently seen as Johanna in Paramount Theatre’s SWEENEY TODD. Regional credits include THE LITTLE MERMAID (Ariel), LES MISERABLES (Cosette), and TITANIC: THE MUSICAL (Caroline) at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. Other Chicago credits include THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE (Olive) at Steel Beam Theatre and A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Ghost of Christmas Past) at Quest Theatre Ensemble.

EMILY BARNASH (The Old Woman) returns to Music Theater Works after appearing last season in LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU: JULE STYNE’S GREATEST HITS and DIE FLEDERMAUS (Rosalinda cover). She will be back as Mazeppa in GYPSY this August. With the Northwestern University Opera Theatre, she performed the title role in SUSANNAH and Mrs. Patrick DeRocher in DEAD MAN WALKING. Other roles include Béatrice in BÈATRICE ET BÈNÈDICT, Madeline/Isabel in THE FACE ON THE BARROOM FLOOR, Countess Almaviva in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Suor Angelica in SUOR ANGELICA, Arminda in LA FINTA GIARDINIERA, Dido in DIDO AND AENEAS, Lady Billows in ALBERT HERRING, Kate Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY and Miss Pinkerton in THE OLD MAID AND THE THIEF. Musical theater roles include the Witch in INTO THE WOODS, Susan in [TITLE OF SHOW], Penelope Pennywise in URINETOWN and Lily Vanessi in KISS ME, KATE. Emily was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District (2015) and received an Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Florida District (2017). Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, she completed her B.M. in vocal performance at DePauw University and her M.M. in vocal performance at Northwestern University. She currently studies with Alexandra LoBianco.

BILLY DAWSON (Maximilian) returns to Music Theatre Works, where he was seen in DAMN YANKEES (Rocky), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (Fydeka), and THE MERRY WIDOW (understudy Brioche and Bogdanovitch). Other regional credits include THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA and THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Three Rivers Music Theatre), WOZZECK, TOSCA (Lyric Opera of Chicago), A NEW BRAIN (Brown Paper Box Co.), THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (Fort Wayne Civic Theatre), as well as concerts and cabarets with Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Chicago Artists Chorale and Harbor Country Opera. In addition to performing, he is co-founder of Three Rivers Music Theatre, and is an on-air personality for The CW. @dawsonbilly

ABBY MURRAY VACHON (Paquette) is making her Music Theater Works debut. Her credits include SWEENEY TODD at the Paramount Theatre and performing with Leslie Uggams in AN EVENING WITH LESLIE UGGAMS at Dayton, Ohio’s Victoria Theatre. At the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres she was Annie Sullivan in THE MIRACLE WORKER, Natalie in ALL SHOOK UP, Hodel in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and Hilda in PLAIN AND FANCY. She played Fantine in LES MISÉRABLES with Pitch In Productions and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wright State University.

RUSSELL ALAN ROWE (Martin) returns to Music Theater Works where he appeared in MAME (M. Lindsay Woolsey), MY FAIR LADY (George, Lord Boxington), SOUTH PACIFIC (Cmdr. Harbison), THE MERRY WIDOW (Kromov), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (Constable) and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (Mac/Buffalo Bill understudy.). Favorite Chicago roles include Robert Danvers in THERE’S A GIRL IN MY SOUP at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre and the Man in Christopher Durang’s LAUGHING WILD with Bailiwick Chicago. Other Chicago credits include PARADE (Governor Slaton/Luther Rosser), AMADEUS (Strack), FLOYD COLLINS (Lee Collins) and THE RAINMAKER (Sheriff Thomas), all with Bohemian Theatre Ensemble. Russell was seen in Porchlight Music Theatre’s ANYONE CAN WHISTLE in concert, and StageLeft’s BLUE/WHITNEY. Russell also works frequently as a professional pianist with The Russell Alan Rowe Trio, and can be seen featured in several local and regional television commercials.

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Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works) is a resident professional not-for-profit theater in Evanston, founded in 1980. The company’s mission is to produce and present musical theater from a variety of world traditions. All productions are presented in English, with foreign works done in carefully edited modern translations. Maximum scholarship is employed to preserve the original vocal and orchestral material as well as the spirit of the original text whenever possible. Audiences know that at Music Theater Works they will experience repertoire often unavailable on the stages of commercial theaters and opera houses, in modern productions with professional artists and full orchestra.

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Music Theater Works’ mission is to produce and present musical theater from a variety of world traditions, to engage the community through educational and outreach programs, and to train artists in musical theater.

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To come

Candide Jewel Girl