Before Jerry Seinfeld, Ned Flanders and Charlotte from “Sex and the City” came along, there was Candide: the original eternal optimist. War, natural disaster, human atrocity and death couldn’t squash his positive outlook.

Director Mary Zimmerman tackles the character in a new interpretation of the popular Leonard Bernstein musical, based on Voltaire’s 18th-century satirical novel, “Candide.”

“I went back to the original text of the book and tried to stick as close to it as possible, while at the same time employing this fantastic Bernstein music,” says the Tony Award-winning director.

She received permission from the Bernstein estate to rewrite the play’s book, but maintained the famed composer’s beloved score.


“Even though Candide says outrageous things and his world view is proven incorrect time after time, I wanted to find the possibility that this character is a real, grown-up human being,” explains Zimmerman.

Zimmerman believes that the novel has been mischaracterized over time.

“It’s not only a satire of people who think it’s ‘the best of all possible worlds,’” she says. “It’s also a satire of people who think it’s the worst.”

In the end, of course, the world is neither one extreme nor the other.

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