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February 2, 2007

Fifty Years Ago Today

Candide, the musical, abruptly closed on Broadway to bad reviews and confused audiences.

Why the hell is that interesting?  Well, because it has tons of cool trivia related to it. 

The book was originally written by Voltaire, who probably sounds like one of those stuffy old guys you never even want to get close to reading.  However, if you crack open the book, you'll find it populated with all kinds of sexual deviants, sluts and prostitutes, clowns, murderers, and one sincere but terribly confused protagonist.  Pangloss, a key figure, whose "logical" progressions of cause and effect could be compared with today's cable TV pundits without too much of a stretch.

Leonard Bernstein, the writer/composer of West Side Story among others, chose Candide for a conversion to musical. It's one of history's great flops, closing after 79 performances. 

Still, it's got some great moments, like the song about how a case of Syphilis got passed along from person to person, or the musical treatment of the Inquisition. For years people listened to part of the score as it was reused, without credit, as the opening theme for the Dick Cavett show.  Today, it's very favorably received, having fans across the world.

Your lesson: Big flops can turn around.  Yeah, that means you.


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