The cast of “Candide” includes Christopher Sieber (from left), Janine DiVita, Aaron Blake, Alexandra Schoeny and Hunter Ryan Herdlicka. CONTRIBUTED BY GREG MOONEY
Indeed, “Candide” has always proved to be open to interpretation. The Bernstein project made an inauspicious Broadway debut in 1956 (scripted by Lillian Hellman), and promptly flopped with audiences and critics alike. The 1974 Broadway revival (completely rewritten by Hugh Wheeler) was a smash hit. Other productions over the years have discarded or resurrected whole subplots and musical numbers. Among those credited for contributing lyrics along the way: Hellman, Richard Wilbur, Dorothy Parker and Stephen Sondheim.
Through it all, the celebrated score for Bernstein’s “comic operetta” has flourished and endured. Sensationally executed here, under the sure hand of conductor Spano and with polished aplomb by his vast ensemble of musicians, the highlights are many.
Aaron Blake performs the title role in “Candide,” a co-production of the Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. CONTRIBUTED BY GREG MOONEY
Tenor Aaron Blake (as Candide) beautifully delivers the impassioned ballad “It Must Be So.” Soprano Alexandra Schoeny (as Cunegonde) skillfully scales the decidedly demanding aria “Glitter and Be Gay.” The show’s powerful finale culminates with the uplifting anthem “Make Our Garden Grow,” resoundingly performed by the entire company.
Two-time Tony nominee Christopher Sieber ("Shrek," "Spamalot") heads the supporting cast, playing both our trusty narrator and Candide's influential Professor Pangloss. Other Broadway veterans on view include Hunter Ryan Herdlicka as the vainglorious half-brother, Maximilian; Janine DiVita as Paquette, a promiscuous flirt; and Atlanta's own Terry Burrell (who starred in the Alliance's "Ethel") as the Old Lady, Cunegonde's cunning confidante.
“Candide,” a co-production of the Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, features Terry Burrell (left) and Alexandra Schoeny. CONTRIBUTED BY GREG MOONEY
Booth’s quirkiest invention involves prerecorded projections (designed by Sven Ortel) and live puppetry displays (maneuvered by Matt Acheson) to depict the many geographical settings, to simulate erupting volcanoes and sinking shipwrecks, and to shadow or magnify certain character actions or plot twists.
Musically accomplished but narratively muddled, not quite everything works for the best in Booth and Spano’s in-concert “Candide.” Even so, under the circumstances, in what Voltaire often describes as “the best of all possible worlds,” at least the show is a magnanimous effort.
Through May 20. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. $10-$80. Atlanta Symphony Hall (at the Woodruff Arts Center), 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, alliancetheatre.org.
Bottom line: At once sprawling and constrained.
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How to win tickets to see Hamilton The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning hit musical "Hamilton" ran in Atlanta from May 22 through June 10 at the Fox Theatre. Broadway in Atlanta announced that “Hamilton” will return for the 2019-2020 season. If you don't have tickets to the global tour, a digital lottery will be giving away 40 tickets for every show for $10 each. Lotteries open two days prior to each show. To enter the lottery, visit hamiltonmusical.com/lottery or download the "Hamilton" app at hamil