Skylark Opera is presenting two operettas in repertory: Leonard Bernstein’s Candide and “From Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill.”
Critics found these productions by turn “witty” and “heartfelt” with a first class cast, but one critic thought this production could have gone deeper.
Bernstein’s score for “Candide” is one of the most brilliant in Broadway history, but it has always had a troublesome libretto. There are many different versions out there, with a number of lyricists trying their hands at it. Director Robert Neu borrows from two versions to create his own fast-moving edition. His witty production plays up Voltaire’s biting satire, while intensifying the touching, heartfelt ending, “Make Your Garden Grow.”
For Berlin To Broadway With Kurt Weill, Skylark has assembled a boffo ensemble: the uber-marvelous Bradley Greenwald; the poised Christina Baldwin, she of the impish grin; the passionate and operatic Vicki Fingalson (her voice floats, effortlessly); the quietly powerful Dieter Bierbrauer. Excellent actors and fabulous singers, to a person. The show was staged by the estimable Wendy Knox.
There’s a reason that “Candide” is considered one of literature’s great masterpieces and that Bernstein is regarded as a master of melody, but Skylark’s staging does more impressive things with the music than the story. It’s a campy “Candide” that could benefit from a brisker pace and more over-the-top abandon. While entertaining, it misses opportunities to be funnier and more deeply rewarding.
“Candide’s” remaining performances are Friday and Sunday; Kurt Weill’s “Berlin to Broadway” runs Thursday and Saturday.