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When: Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Continues through March 9 2008
Price: $15-$25

The repeatedly rewritten musical version of Voltaire's satire Candide is an ambitious work for a fledgling theater company to take on, but Virago's bare-bones production largely does justice to Leonard Bernstein's magnificent score. From his lovely tenor voice to his puppy-dog demeanor, John Brown makes a perfect Candide, clinging to optimism even as he and his loved ones are repeatedly raped, slaughtered, tortured, defrauded, pimped, betrayed, and degraded in every possible manner throughout Europe and a good chunk of South America. The part of his true love Cunegonde is tremendously demanding, especially the insane soprano flourishes in the aria "Glitter and Be Gay," and Eileen Meredith navigates the part deftly. However, Dale Murphy's mild performance as Voltaire and deluded mentor Pangloss, and Lisa Pan's similarly stiff Old Lady, don't bring much to the table. Through March 9 at Rhythmix Cultural Works (2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda).ViragoTheatre.org or 510-865-6237.


— Sam Hurwitt

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