The first I liked very much, with some inescapable but forgivable reservations:
Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” is back on Broadway–almost. New York City Opera, whose Lincoln Center headquarters is a block from Broadway and slightly north of the theater district, has revived its 1982 production of Bernstein’s 1956 operetta. Like the show itself, this “Candide” is flawed, but it definitely works, and unlike the semi-staged concert version presented last spring by the New York Philharmonic, which ran for just four performances, it plays through next Saturday, long enough for the word to get out….
Mr. Prince’s staging (reproduced by Arthur Masella) is full of good, dirty fun. The cast is generally fine, though Mr. Cullum isn’t quite right as Voltaire/Pangloss–he’s broad and bluff, not sharp and sardonic–and Ms. Christy, a very good Cunegonde in her own right, inevitably labors in the shadow of Kristin Chenoweth’s billion-volt performance with the New York Philharmonic. Nor is the New York State Theater well suited to Richard Wilbur’s quick-witted lyrics, which are best heard in a smaller house, ideally on Broadway.
Still, any “Candide” is infinitely better than none at all, and this one is performed with zesty, infectious relish….
The second I thought less successful as a show, but the acting redeems all:
Mercedes Ruehl has taken up residence at the Promenade Theatre, where she is starring in “Woman Before a Glass,” a one-woman play by Lanie Robertson about the life and loves of the late Peggy Guggenheim, an American heiress turned art dealer who bought a Venetian palazzo and filled it with her 260-piece collection of avant-garde paintings and sculpture….
Ms. Ruehl is in splendid, even spectacular form. Never having met Guggenheim, I can’t tell you whether her performance is true to life, but it’s full of life, outrageous and uproarious and, in the end, pitiful….
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