Douglas Morrisson Theatre’s ‘Candide’ a hearty challenge

Candide (Andres Ramirez) and Cunegonde (Angela Jarosz) fight for their love in the comic operetta "Candide", playing through Nov. 30th at the Douglas Morrison Theatre in Hayward. (Photo by Terry Sullivan)
Candide (Andres Ramirez) and Cunegonde (Angela Jarosz) fight for their love in the comic operetta “Candide”, playing through Nov. 30th at the Douglas Morrisson Theatre in Hayward. (Photo by Terry Sullivan)

You wanna talk about being fired up? Talk to David Moschler for a few minutes about his latest project, and you’ll definitely understand what it means to be fired up.

Moschler is musical and vocal director for the Douglas Morrisson Theatre’s ambitious production of the comic operetta “Candide,” which opens Friday, Nov. 7th in Hayward. The show‘s history has been led by many of the great collaborators and dramatists in the American Theatre. Names like Lillian Hellman, Hugh Wheeler, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim have all contributed to the operetta, from the story originally written by French writer and philosopher Voltaire.

So what is Moschler so excited about? Is it the show? The cast? The music? Talk to him for 15 minutes, and you’ll soon find out, it’s all of it.

“The music is just a blend you don’t find in any other show, because it’s difficult to do,” said Moschler. “The show requires a very good orchestra and it’s a huge adventure that doesn’t get done often. Working on the show remains one of the highlights of my career.”

Moschler is not a person who shies away from a challenge, and “Candide” certainly presents a substantial one. The story follows the exploits of the young man Candide, who spends his time searching for his lost love Cunegonde. Resistance comes in the form of the Baron and his son, who ultimately kicks Candide out of the castle when he finds out about the young lovers.

Moschler is quick to lie out the history of the show, and is certainly well versed in what it takes to do the show well. He states that the show has taken on many different forms throughout the years, and has gone through a few definite versions, somewhat uncommon in the history of the American musical theatre. Seeing a production of other musicals will have their differences in the concepts and productions, but many of the songs and librettos remain the same. That is not the case with “Candide.”

“There are three versions that can currently be licensed, and there is an elusive quality for the show that is maintained and created over the years,” said Moschler. “The version we are doing is very different from the original version.

“There have been different Broadway versions, and 14 different lyricists worked on the show over the years. It’s an epic decision to think about what version to do. That’s why it’s not done often.

Moschler is certainly confident the cast is up for the challenge.

“It’s not a show where you can just dial it in. You can’t just come to rehearsal and check in and check out. Everyone must be fully invested from an acting standpoint, and a director and designer standpoint.”

In addition to a cast he feels very strongly about, he is also happy to work with Michael Mohammed, a director who has a wide range of skills in the performing arts. A stage director who is also well-credentialed in music and dance, Moschler feels fortunate to work with someone he considers “a renaissance man.”

“The great thing about Michael is that he has a background in everything,” he said. “He is active as an actor, dancer, choreographer and a celebrated vocalist in both operas and musicals.

“Michael knows when to push back and say ‘I think this is the best thing for the show.’ If I want to try something new, he’s up for it. He’s such a great collaborator and understands style very well. It takes a director like him, who has the perfect skill set for this show.”

While Moschler certainly enjoys shows that are popular in the musical theatre canon, musicals that can easily be trotted out at any time, “Candide” is different. Only a handful of productions take place throughout the country at any given time, he says. And he is loving every minute of the experience that he is grabbing at the Douglas Morrisson Theatre.

“It’s a very big adventure to go on, and the rewards are very well worth it,” said Moschler. “Nobody walks away from the show unaffected, and everybody is moved by it.”

WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO

The Douglas Morrisson Theatre presents “Candide”
The Royal National Theatre Version
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book adapted from Voltaire
by Hugh Wheeler
In a New Version by John Caird
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Directed by Michael Mohammed
Nov. 6th – 30th
The Douglas Morrison Theatre
22311 N Third Street, Hayward, CA
Tickets range from $21 – $32
For Tickets, call (510) 881-6777 or visit dmtonline.org

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