Bernstein’s “Candide” to be performed in Stansbury

Alex Schaaf

(Ian Wallace)

This weekend, March 4-7, Leonard Bernstein’s operetta “Candide” will be performed in Stansbury Theatre. Based on the novella of the same name by Voltaire, the operetta was first performed in 1956 and features music written by Bernstein and lyrics written by several other contributors including Stephen Sondheim and the poet Richard Wilbur.
Bonnie Koestner, associate professor of music and vocal coach for the production, described the different aspects of the appeal of “Candide,” saying, “The plot, which is based upon Voltaire’s satirical novel of 1759, is an episodic adventure and love story, full of crazy and illogical plot twists. In addition to being entertaining, it has life lessons to teach that apply to us today as much as they did to people living in Voltaire’s time.”
Referring to Bernstein’s score, she added, “But what really appeals to me most about Candide is the music. This is some of Leonard Bernstein’s best – a score full of variety and riches.”
The production features a double cast, with 40 performers taking the stage in total. The title role will be portrayed by senior Alex Gmeinder on Thursday and Saturday and by senior Justin Berkowitz on Friday and Sunday.
Candide’s love interest Cunegonde will be played by senior Lara Wasserman on Thursday and Saturday and by senior Taylor Jacobson on Friday and Sunday. The character Pangloss will be portrayed by senior Derrell Acon on Thursday and Saturday and by sophomore Brian Acker on Friday and Sunday.
Koestner stressed the challenge that this production has presented to the cast and crew, saying, “The students in Candide are wonderfully talented, creative and dedicated, so working with them has been a joy and a privilege. Perhaps the biggest challenge for all of us has been our new calendar.”
She added, “We do all of the musical preparation and coaching of singers during the first term. This is followed by a six-week break, with staging in second term. That makes for a very long preparation process with an extended break in the middle. The students have done well in maintaining their concentration and excitement as each new layer of the production is added.”
“Candide” will be performed March 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and March 7 at 3 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and students, and they are available at the box office.

(Stephen Anunson)

(Stephen Anunson)