Porchlight Candide, Putting Audience in the Action, Begins Sept. 13 in Chicago | Playbill

News Porchlight Candide, Putting Audience in the Action, Begins Sept. 13 in Chicago
Porchlight Music Theatre in Chicago launches a new environmental production of the 1973 Harold Prince revision of Leonard Bernstein's Candide Sept. 13 at Theatre Building Chicago.
Ryan Lanning and Caitlin Collins
Ryan Lanning and Caitlin Collins

The comic operetta/musical based on the 1759 French masterpiece by Voltaire includes contributions by lyricist Stephen Sondheim and librettist Hugh Wheeler. It opens Sept. 14 and continues to Nov. 2.

The Porchlight production "will integrate the orchestra into the middle of the action." The entire theatre is being adapted "to involve the audience and the musicians more fully into the show."

This version premiered at the Chelsea Theatre Centre in Brooklyn in 1973, and moved to Broadway in 1974. The production went on to win three Tony Awards including Best Director and Best Book.

According to Porchlight, "In one lightning-paced act, the hapless Candide is expelled from home, drafted into the Bulgarian army, brought before the Spanish Inquisition, swindled out of a fortune, shipwrecked on a desert isle, and separated time and again from his true love Cunegonde. Through it all, Candide remembers the lesson of his dear master Dr. Pangloss: that 'everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.'"

Candide features a Tony Award-winning book by Wheeler (Sweeney Todd) and a beloved score that includes the show's famous overture, "Glitter and Be Gay" and "Make Our Garden Grow." Richard Wilbur is the chief lyricist of the project. The 1997 Broadway revival (a proscenium affair different than the 1973 version) earned four Tony Award nominations. The musical first bowed on Broadway in 1956, in a production directed by Tyrone Guthrie. There is also an "opera house" version and a final version overseen and recorded by Bernstein. Director John Caird also created yet another version in the 1990s, adding more of the Voltaire book into the show.

Jeff Award-winning actor David Girolmo leads the Porchlight cast as Dr. Voltaire/Pangloss. Girolmo was also featured in Candide on Broadway in 1997 under the direction of Prince.

Candide features Jeff Citation winner Ryan Lanning as the hapless Candide with newcomer Caitlin Collins as his beloved Cunegonde. The tale includes a tragically funny Old Woman (Kristen Freilich), a vain brother Maximilian (Jeremy Rill) and a saucy maid Paquette (Sarah Hayes). The quick-changing and hard-working ensemble includes Christin Boulette, Cameron Brune, Sean Effinger-Dean, Gerald Richardson, Shannon Strodel, Jennifer Tjepkema, Joseph Tokarz and Daniel Waters.

The show is directed by Porchlight Music Theatre's artistic director and Jeff Award winner L. Walter Stearns, with music direction by Jeff Award winner Eugene Dizon, choreography by Andrew Waters, costume design by After Dark Award winner Bill Morey and scenic design by Kurt Sharp.

Tickets may be purchased through the box office at Theatre Building (773) 327-5252 or www.TicketMaster.com. Group sales discounts are available through Group Theater Tix at (312) 423-6612 or (866) 809-3075.


Porchlight Music Theatre produces award-winning interpretations of classic musicals and cutting-edge new works on intimate stages. The company has staged 36 shows including four world premieres (including The Teapot Scandals, its first work developed through Off the Porch, Porchlight's new works program), as well as seven Chicago premieres. An Equity theatre since 2004, the company has already received a total of 24 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 10 Jeff Awards.

Visit porchlighttheatre@yahoo.com.


Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia will open its season with John Caird's 1990s revision of Candide, marking that version's premiere in American regional theatres. It is said to follow Voltaire's book more closely than earlier versions of the musical.

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