During my sophomore year in college, our musical theatre production was “Candide,” based on the 18th-century satire written by French philosopher Voltaire. Candide is a young man living a sheltered life and seeing his world as a perfect place. Candide’s optimism fades as he ventures out into the world and witnesses its hardships and pain. In the end, Candide learns that it is best to “cultivate one’s own garden.” Make your peace and happiness in your small corner.
I won’t supply a biography of Voltaire; you can find it online if you’re interested. Instead, I’ll remember a play where lifelong friendships were forged; we rehearsed through a blizzard; our “theatre” was a former gymnasium with terrible acoustics, no secured seating (folding chairs), and a “green room” that doubled as a ladies’ lounge. It didn’t matter, though. It was the best of all possible productions.
Here is a clip from 2004, the New York Philharmonic revival of “Candide,” featuring Kristin Chenoweth: