Student-led operetta 'Candide' opens Feb. 21

A "Candide" scene featuring Dr. Pangloss and his students Candide, Maximillian and Cunegonde.
A "Candide" scene featuring Dr. Pangloss and his students Candide, Maximillian and Cunegonde.

A collaboration within the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts is bringing an adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's 1956 operetta "Candide" to stage.

The regional premiere of Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of "Candide" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21, 22 and 23, and 3 p.m. Feb. 24 in Kimball Recital Hall. Tickets, $20 general admission and $10 for students (with identification) and senior citizens, are available at the Lied Center ticket office, 402-472-4747, 800-432-3231 or at the door one hour before a performance.

The production is presented by UNL's School of Music and the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

Aliza Belfower, a senior lecturer in music, is directing the operetta.

Students from music and theatre and film are featured in the performance. Tyler White, professor of music, conducts the UNL Orchestra.

Belflower said that the operetta has undergone numerous changes and adaptations since opening in 1956. Bernstein modified the musical score and brought in various lyricists such as Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman and Stephen Sondheim to aid in the show’s development.

For the UNL production, Zimmerman, a Lincoln native, with permission from the Bernstein Estate, has created a new libretto by going back to the Voltaire novella first published in 1759.

“She updated the humor to be more contemporary, changed the order or location of some of the hero’s travels and disasters then incorporated Bernstein’s music, selecting from the multiple existing scores," said Belflower. "The UNL production will be the first presentation of Zimmerman’s work with full orchestration.”

Belflower said the production retains the basic storyline and all the Bernstein musical favorites, such as "Glitter" and "Be Gay, The Best of All Possible Worlds" and "Make Our Garden Grow.”

Candide (played by Adam Fieldson) is the illegitimate nephew of the Baron (Ryan Rabstejnek), and lives in the Baron’s castle with Maximillian (Nolan Henkle), the Baroness’s (Anne Gray) son, and Cunegonde (Kendall Reimer), the Baroness’s daughter, whom Candide loves. All three are pupils of Dr. Pangloss (Sam Hartley), the world’s greatest philosopher. After Candide angers the Baron, he is exiled and begins an odyssey that takes him around the world. Throughout, Candide attempts to live by Pangloss’s philosophy that, no matter what happens, this is the “best of all possible worlds.”

Other members of the UNL student-only cast include: Harper Anderson, Thomas Boyle, Christian Cardona, Kamerin Churchman, Kourtlin Churchman, Matthew Clegg, Jay Colwell, Deanna Davis, Rebecca Duncan, David Michael Fox, Angela Gilbert, Lauren Hackenmiller, Jared Hiscock, Bryan Howard, Lauren Huston, Shade Ingraham, Brian Jeffers, Kayla Klammer, Hannah Kurth, Timothy Madden, Cody Meyer, Meghan Modrovsky, Brette Petersen, Deanna Pina, Jaimie Pruden, David Rubio, Devon Schovanec, Emily Solo, Jenny Smith, Trip Snyder, Justin Strong, Jamie Unger, Nathaniel Sullivan, Sara Warner, Rachael Washington, and Kayla Wilkens.

The production is created by graduate students Michaela Lynne Stein (scenic), Mallory Maria Prucha (costumes), Clayton Andrew Van Winkle (lighting), undergraduate student Michael Fortkamp (technical direction), and instructional staff member Jeff O’Brien (sound). The stage manager is undergraduate Megan Kraft.

Prucha is fulfilling requirements for her Master of Fine Arts degree with her responsibilities to this production.

All seating is general admission. Reservations for a particular performance are strongly recommended.

In the event of inclement weather, a decision about "Candide" performances will be made by 11 a.m. the day of a performance. If a performance is cancelled, it will be announced on Facebook at, through Twitter at, and at