Review Roundup: Kelsey Grammer and Christine Ebersole in LA Opera's CANDIDE

LA Opera presents its premiere of Candide, Leonard Bernstein's 1956 musical comedy classic. Music Director James Conlon will conduct a cast led by Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer and Tony winner Christine Ebersole, both making their company debuts. Performances take place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012).

Free-wheeling and funny, satirical and soaring, Candide takes the audience on a whirlwind tour of human folly and foolishness. Brimming with youthful innocence, Candide is certain that he lives in the best of all possible worlds. But an unrelenting series of ridiculously unfortunate events makes him question everything he has been taught.

Let's see what the critics have to say!


Mark Swed, LA Times: Grammer serves as both Voltaire, who in Caird's often tiresome version, acts as host offering a long-winded précis of his novel, and Dr. Pangloss, the optimist tutor who views all things in the world as for the best, no matter how terrible. In this Grammer gives as much theatrical heft to Voltaire as he can (a thankless task) but proves an engagingly ridiculous Pangloss as well as capable singer.

Gil Kaan, BroadwayWorld: The ensemble scenes, with an average of twenty performers on stage were inventively choreographed and staged by Eric Sean Fogel, making full use of the bare-bones, versatile, two-tier set from James Noone. Set pieces were moved smoothly without ever interrupting the flow from scene-to-scene. A very clever use of a center stage trap door greatly surprised and complemented the flow of stage action. Kudos also to Fogel for keeping his dance moves un-contemporary and period appropriate, except for the intentionally, hysterical, homage to Vegas showgirls in the "Ballad of Eldorado" sequence. Jennifer Moeller's costumes read authentic period (expect, again, for the intentional Vegas feathers and headdresses) while complimenting the actresses wearing them. Right-on-cue lighting, and winning strobe lighting effects for the battle scenes from Mark.

Jordan Riefe, Hollywood Reporter: Two-time Tony winner Ebersole (42nd Street, Grey Gardens) arrives midway through the first act, bringing clever comedic timing as the Old Lady whose single remaining buttock (the other lost to cannibals) becomes a running gag. She has little trouble taking center stage as well as easily fitting in with the rest of the ensemble, harmoniously singing along through the tricky quartet that ends the first act.


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