watching Candide (the 2005 concert)

I was lucky enough to happen on a copy of Candide‘s 2005 Broadway revival concert and with my Dad, we holed up in our living room, blankets around us (as it was so cold), and watched with absolute glee to this amazing production.

I fell in love with Candide as far back as the 80s. My Dad and my Mom had a cassette tape of an Australian cast version that had all the dialogue recorded as well as the music. My brother and I used to listen to it all day, assigning characters (and songs) to each other and sing to our heart’s content. There were many songs we have committed to memory and can sing along to the record. I’ve always loved Candide.

Twenty years later, I fell in love with it all over again by way of this recording of the 2005 Broadway revival concert with Paul Groves as Candide and Kristin Chenoweth as Cunegonde. As a kid, I knew the songs by heart because I was taken by the wit and the humour found in the lyrics and the acting. Now that I’m older, I have a much better appreciation of Leonard Bernstein’s magnificent score and music. It was the first thing I focused on, how beautiful the music is, and it helped that the 2005 Broadway revival concert was performed by a full orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, with conductor Marin Alsop.

Paul Groves is magnificent as Candide. He plays against his large frame by acting so innocently but when he sings, goodness! What a voice! And Kristin Chenoweth is a star and she’s hilariously funny as Cunegonde. Patti LuPone is pitch perfect as the Old Lady and the choir and the staging was just a complete and utter treat.

It was so strange, sitting in my living room with my Dad, watching this concert and knowing almost all the songs by heart (some songs were later additions which I am not familiar with) and to actually see what I had just heard from a cassette over twenty years ago. And to finally realise the sheer power of this satire as it jumps from one crazy, off-the-wall moment to the next, and then arrives at its most insightful and wise conclusion.

I was laughing so hard, I did not expect to be brought to tears when they finally sang Make Our Garden Grow. I knew it was beautiful but after seeing everything and hearing everything, I get swept up by the music and the powerful voices, that magnificent orchestration and the bright gem of wisdom that was given to me: that all there is to this world is honest work and that we must make our garden grow.

How wonderful to be at an age when we have access to all this. I got to see it; even if I wasn’t there; I got to see it and experience it, in my own way. I felt so blessed and so thrilled and so humbled. It was so beautiful. I am so happy and so glad I got to see it.

Most of all, I am so glad and happy that I got to see it with my Dad, who made me listen to the cassette tape when I was not even ten years old yet. He got to share that with me.

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