Sunday, 9 February 2014

A Matter About The Enlightenment

Candide at Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre

I confess I haven't heard much about Bernstein's Candide except hearing the opening Overture at a classical concert.  I knew of the song, Glitter and Be Gay.  At the same time, an amateur company in Leeds was putting on the musical but I was unable to go and see because of prior engagements.  Anyway I heard the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre is putting on Candide.  I always wanted to see one of their productions.  With a strong and reputable cast and creative team line up I didn't hesitate to book a ticket for Candide!

I did some further research about Candide,  It's classed more as an operetta than a musical.  It's based on the novel Voltaire which Hugh Wheeler adapted.  Lyricist, Richard Wilbur, wrote the lyrics with additional ones from Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, Lilian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and also Bernstein.

I enjoyed Candide - the story of Candide has the hallmarks of The Enlightement and how key players thought, explored and experimented. Voltaire (whom Francois-Marie Arouet was known as) was a French Enlightenment writer and wrote a variety of literacy genres from novels to plays.  He was forthright with his beliefs and attacked on traditions and promoted freedom of thought, expression and reasoning based on individual experiments and explorations.  The views, at the time, weren't popular which led him being in trouble with the authorities in France.  He ended up fleeing to different countries and becoming an exile until further trouble - then only to flee again.

Candide (Fra Fee) is in similar vein to Voltaire who escapes to different countries in the eye of disaster and/or trouble.  Candide also follows his love Cunegonde (Scarlet Strallen) and also the spirit of Dr Pangloss (James Dreyfeus) infamous philosophy of optimism (sung in Life is Happiness Indeed and The Best of All Possible World).  Candide's journey is full of ups and downs and in the end learns, from personal experience, about life (sung in Make Our Garden Grow).

Me with Scarlett Strallen (Cunegonde) and Fra Fee (Candide)

I enjoy my Sunday afternoon outing at Menier Chocolate FactoryCandide was performed by a very talented and excellent cast which included Fra Fee, Scarlet Strallen, Christopher Jacobsen, Ben Lewis (who is the Phantom in the Australian Production of Love Never Dies), David Thaxton, James Dreyfeus and Company.

Me with Ben Lewis (Played varies roles in Candide)

I liked how the space was used as a stage.  Full credit to the creative team including Matthew White (Director), Adam Cooper (Choreographer), Paul Farnsworth (Set and Costume Designer), Paul Anderson (Lighting Designer), Gareth Owen (Sound Designer) and the musical arrangements managed by David Charles (who was musical director for Love Never Dies), Seann Alderking and Jason Carr.

Me with Christopher Biggins, Celebrity and TV Presenter

I had the honour meeting Fra Fee, Scarlet Strallen and Ben Lewis after the show. It was nice to have the opportunity to say thanks for their performance and time after the show.  It was also a bonus meeting Christopher Biggins who was the TV presenter for On Safari, one of my favourite Children's TV programme in the 1980s and he also saw Candide the same time!  I was very happy to have finally met him!

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