Leonard Bernstein's fantastically funny operetta springs to life in this concert production of Candide. Based on Voltaire's classic tale of an innocent young man's comic odyssey, Candide is a colorful and catchy delight, featuring Tony Award-winners Patti LuPone and Kristin Chenoweth along with a top-notch cast including Paul Groves, Janine LaManna, Sir Thomas Allen and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. With Bernstein's impeccable hand behind the music and a parade of legendary lyricists – including Dorothy Parker, Stephen Sondheim, and Lillian Hellman – this musical comedy classic is essential for all fans of the Great White Way!
If any of you are into theatre or Broadway plays, you are bound to have come across 'Candide' at some point in time. Originally, 'Candide' was a novella by Voltaire back in the 1700s, but was reworked for the Broadway stage as a musical in the mid 1950s, which was met with not-so-favorable reviews from critics and audiences alike. Since then, 'Candide' has been re-tooled, re-worked, and re-imagined more times than 'Spider-Man'. Fast forward a couple of decades later where Leonard Bernstein adapted 'Candide' into a comic operetta in 1973, based on Hugh Wheeler's new book.
From here, the story and show were a success, but that didn't stop Bernstein from working on the project, still re-working every song and piece of dialogue and action for another ten or so years. Bernstein of course had help from some talented friends, including Dorothy Parker and Stephen Sodheim to bring this funny production to life. With veteran stage actress Patti LuPone, Paul Groves, Sir Thomas Allen, and Kristen Chenoweth, 'Candide' is sure to spark some laughs and wonder to those who watch it.
This version is from 2004 and was recorded live at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts with the New York Philharmonic. It's still rare these days to find a stage version or concert reading in high definition. Being a fan of the theatre myself, I'm usually purchasing lame DVD copies or bootleg version of my favorite stage plays still, but now and for the foreseeable future, there is one company that will be releasing Broadway productions LIVE on Blu-ray. That company is Shout! Factory, who also runs Scream Factory.
Their new branch is titled Shout Broadway, and I can't wait for more releases like this, because I feel this is an untapped resource. Sure there a lot of stage productions that get made into feature films and while some are good, there is something of having a live performance on screen that still energizes me and I'm glad that Shout Broadway is stepping up to the plate. If you're unfamiliar with the story, the short of it is that a man named Candide is about to marry the beautiful Cunegonde. Candide's teacher Dr. Pangloss teaches him that "All is For The Best", which breaks into song. Soon though, a war breaks out and chaos ensues as Candide tries to find meaning and love in this world. There are some crazy and quirky characters along the way and a ton of iconic songs and music.
Both Cunegonde and Candide follow their own adventures, mostly separate from one another, as they are always reminded and try to look a the best in everything. The costumes and music are fantastic still, as is the most famous song 'Glitter and Be Gay' knocks it out of the park here. There are some weird camera movements where the camera is not fully in on the joke and we hear the audience laugh, but the camera is not focusing on the action, but rather a closeup of something else. These are few in far between, but it still happens. 'Candide' is a fantastic story and well made for the stage and screen, but the bigger picture here is that we will be getting more stage productions from Shout! and that is good news, people.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Candide' comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Shout! Factory's new branch called Shout Broadway and is Region A Locked. There is no insert or digital download code here. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case without a cardboard sleeve.
'Candide' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. There are some good things about this LIVE video presentation that work, where other aspect seems a bit off. Detail looks rather sharp and vivid, mainly in closeups where you can see individual hairs and tons of makeup blemishes and effects in the actor's faces. Fine stitching in the costumes look good here too, but when wider shots of the cast and Orchestra are being show, detail doesn't seem to show up as nicely.
Colors look great when the different lighting effects are shining bright on the eye popping costumes, but there is some weird purple light that strikes down at certain times, which doesn't seem to be a part of the production. There is also some horizontal lines that pop up as well as some shakiness to the image, which was weird. Since it was live and only one performance, I guess we get the warts and all. Black levels are mostly deep and inky and the skin tones look good.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix and does a good job for it being a stereo track. Unfortunately, this soundscape could have benefitted from a lively 5.1 mix, since the orchestra and musical numbers are so much fun. It would have fully immersed you into this quirky world and story. That's not the case here.
Still, there is a full sound on the front speakers of all the instruments and dialogue, which was clear and easy to follow. There were some volume fluctuations here and there, but again, this was filmed live, and what you see is what you get. Most noises are balanced and well adjusted, but I wish there was more power and depth to this track.
'Candide' is a great story, and when Bernstein made it his own, he knocked it out of the park. I'm sure he would be proud of all the renditions of it today. This version is a lot of fun with great musical numbers and an excellent cast. Shout Broadway's new titles and branch looks to offer some upcoming fun releases in the future. The video and audio presentations are both commendable, but have their problems. And there are no extras to be found here, which makes this release difficult to recommend, which I want to. So to that I will say this is For Fans Only.e.