Sedos, the City of London’s premier amateur theatre company, stages Candide in London this winter, in a revival which celebrates the 60th anniversary of the show’s Broadway premiere, on 1 December 1956.
“I first performed in Candide about 15 years ago in San Diego, when I played The Governor, and I’m delighted that I now have the chance to direct it on this special anniversary,” said director Michael Smith. “It’s an honour to celebrate 60 years of Candide with our production.”
Based on Voltaire’s 1759 novella of the same name, Candide is a masterpiece from the greats of musical theatre, with music by Leonard Bernstein, a book by Hugh Wheeler and lyrics by Richard Wilbur. Sedos will use the 1999 National Theatre version by John Caird.
A naïve young man, Candide, is thrown out of the Baron of Thunder-Den-Tronck's castle when he attempts to marry the Baron’s daughter Cunegonde. They embark on a round-the-world journey in which their idealistic belief that all’s for the best in this “best of all possible worlds” is challenged by a series of absurd misfortunes.
Among their adventures, Candide, Cunegonde and their friends become tangled up in wars, shipwrecked, cheated out of a fortune, repeatedly separated, forced into prostitution and marriage, and struggle to determine the meaning of life.
Michael added: “Performing in Candide 15 years ago proved to be one of the most influential experiences of my life; the importance of the message of the show — ‘make your garden grow’ and don't look for a symbolic larger goal, especially through others — and the quality of music only grew more resonant as my life progressed.
“However, the message of this work may be lost in a potentially meandering story and a lushness in music, set or period costumes. I decided to present this show using the great talent I found at Sedos, and I had a vision to set the show in a way that would frame it simply and truthfully.
“I hope that this production moves you for the rest of your life — as it has me — with the depth of meaning imbued by Voltaire, delivered artfully through Bernstein's glorious music and the witty National Theatre's libretto at the fore.”
The production runs from 23 November-3 December 2016 at the Bridewell Theatre, just off Fleet Street, where Sedos is the resident theatre company. The anniversary on 1 December will feature a Glitter and Be Gay gala night, when the audience are encouraged to wear something that sparkles.
This is the first time Sedos has staged Candide, but the company has put on West Side Story, with music also by Leonard Bernstein, three times — in 2011, 1996 and 1987.