After a successful Harold Prince-directed revival in the early 1970s and a well-received Prince-directed repertoire addition to the New York City Opera in the early 1980s, the second Harold Prince-directed Broadway revival in 1997 returned Candide to what it had been in its initial 1956 Broadway run: a failure. In the '70s, Prince found success by scaling the work down and emphasizing its humor over its music; in the '90s, what was touted as the first full-scale symphonic version for Broadway in more than 40 years managed to overemphasize both. In a work that has seen at least four major revisions, this version found the role of the Old Lady beefed up to suit comedian Andrea Martin, who in turn proved hammy. Harolyn Blackwell, on the other hand, could have used some of Martin's overacting; she didn't seem to realize she'd moved downtown from the Metropolitan Opera House and that her singing should be lyrically comprehensible, and even funny, in addition to being musically showy. The best-known Broadway name in the revival was Jim Dale, but he didn't have enough to do in the ensemble show to save it. Jason Danieley, in the title role, however, was effective. The music and lyrics of Candide are too good for any professionally mounted recording to be really bad, but this one came closest.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann