Caitlin Sarver

This spring will see the first collaboration of Miami University’s theater and music departments as they work together to produce the musical, Candide.

A satirical musical comedy based on the novel by Voltaire, the musical is adapted by Hugh Wheeler, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Richard Wilbur, John LaTouche and Stephen Sondheim.

According to junior female lead Jessica Dyer, Miami traditionally puts on a musical every two years – but according to director Gion DeFrancesco, this is the first time these two departments have ever collaborated.

After auditions last fall, the musical boasts a diverse cast around 30 members, with the playbill made up of theater and music majors. However, according to male lead Steven Mullan, many on the cast are merely passionate about performing.

“The musical is funny, it makes a point and has meaning behind it,” said DeFrancesco, an associate professor of theater. “The music is also wonderful and sparkles.”

DeFrancesco has worked on several productions during his time at Miami. After spending time at the University of Kentucky, he joined the Miami department of theater in 2001. As primarily a scene designer, he has worked on such productions as The Devils in 2004, The Playboy of the Western World in 2003 and A Doll House in 2001.

The musical follows Candide, played by Mullan, who loves Cunegonde, played by Dyer – both living “in the best of all possible worlds.” Although, when the best of all possible tragedies strike, Candide and his friends must shape their views of life through the personal understanding of joy, loss, discovery and fulfillment. Famous for its overture and colorful score, the musical aptly reflects Voltaire’s satirical view of optimism found in the novel.

Candide first opened on Broadway in December 1956, with its music becoming an instant hit. The musical has undergone several changes through the years, slowly gaining status in pop culture. The song from the production, “Glitter Be Gay” even went on to become the theme song for ABC’s “Dick Cavett Show.”

The production is also under the musical direction of Ben Smolder, an assistant professor of voice, as well as DeFrancesco.

“I love everything about the show and the music is incredible,” said Mullen, a sophomore voice performance major. “In my opinion, it’s Bernstein’s greatest production.”

DeFrancesco praised the cast for their hard work and talent.

“I wasn’t sure we would get the spectacular cast that we did,” DeFrancesco said. “This was one of the easier shows to cast. All the perfect people for the parts showed up to the audition and have been able to learn the difficult music very well and in a short amount of time, and it sounds great.”

With long nights of rehearsal and hard work put into the production, the cast is looking forward to the opening night.

“We started rehearsing in February almost every night from 7 to 11 p.m.,” Dyer said.

Commenting on what people will experience when they see the show, DeFrancesco is confident that people will enjoy it.

The musical’s performances will be in the Gates-Abegglen Theatre in the Center for Performing Arts. Premiering at 8 p.m. April 5, the show will run through April 15.

Tickets are $9 for adults, $8 for students and $6 for Miami students and youth under 18. Tickets are currently available at the Shriver Center box office or online.

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