LEFT TO RIGHT, Paquette (Kristin Barney), Cacambo (Riley Taresh), the Old Woman With Only One Buttock (Mackenzie Mazen), Candide (Liam Muirhead) and Cunegonde (Rachel Ziegler) get caught up in the turmoil In "Candide." The play will be presented in the Charter University Prep gym in El Dorado. Photo by Pico van Houtryve


Charter University Prep presents ‘Candide’

Charter University Prep’s drama department is proud to present “Candide.”

This theatrical adaptation of Voltaire’s timeless 1759 satire opens Friday, May 9 at 7 p.m. in the gym at the Charles Brown School campus, 6520 Oak Dell Road in El Dorado. There is a Saturday, May 10 production at 10:00 a.m.

The Charter Prep students are performing an adaptation of “Candide” that was written by Scott Hunter appropriate for a high school audience and older audiences due to its mature themes.

Voltaire communicated with satire to paint a picture — a picture challenging entrenched social hierarchies while arousing the masses.

“Candide” explores the value of optimism during the Age of Enlightenment — a period of history ruled by force rather than reason — an era globally rife with inhumane institutional punishments and commonplace cruelties creating rampant pessimism.

The plot of “Candide” is a clarion call; innocence is sometimes lost when bad things happen to naïve good people.

“’Candide’ is a metaphor for what incoming freshmen might encounter in a college dorm,” said Mike Harris, CU Prep’s principal.

Candide demands to know “why” and “how” during an era when the average citizen had no civil rights; religion and politics were boldly used as thinly-veiled excuses for crime, corruption, public executions, war and plunder.

The lead character explores the value of clinging to indigenous moral foundations, maintaining loyalty to old friends, true love in the face of adversity, common decency and honest work.

Written under a pseudonym and published in secret, Voltaire’s “Candide” was a critical novella influencing America’s Founding Fathers and their French contemporaries to revolt against tyranny during the late 1700s.

“Candide” chronicles the adventures of the everyman, a commoner, in this case, a naïve illegitimate young man. Candide is played by Liam Muirhead. He is forever in love with his arrogant, privileged, upper-class, teenage crush, Cunegonde played by Rachel Ziegler.

In terms of their respective approaches to life and politics, Candide, “the optimist,” embodies the dogged personality of a male hedgehog; Cunegonde, the ingénue, represents “the fox,” his cunning attractive female counterpart in the story.

Pangloss, the Philosopher, their childhood tutor and moral guru, played by Philip Southern, is a pivotal character. Pangloss preaches, “This is the best of all possible worlds.”

As the audience is immersed in the play it gets to determine whether or not Pangloss is correct.

Pangloss and several narrators facilitate the audience’s transition into the play’s unpredictable world; the Narrators include Kristin Barney as Paquette (Cunegonde’s chambermaid), Makenzie Mazen as the Old Woman with one Buttock, Alex Ferrand as Martin the Pessimist, Casey Moreno as John the Anabaptist, Sean Kelly as the Barron Thunder-Ten-Tronckh and Jane Southern as the Baroness Thunder-Ten-Tronckh.

The rest of the cast and crew paint a marvelous mosaic in this absurdly allegorical reality: Patrick Setty as Henrich the Noble Man, King of the Amazon in El Dorado and an Executioner; Riley Taresh as Cacambo, Candide’s servant; Alex Ferrand as the Bulgarian Soldier, the Grand Inquisitor, the Drill Sergeant and the Revolutionary Commander; Daniel Wright as the Inspector General, the Slave Auctioneer and the Unlucky Beggar; RJ Barney as the Viceroy of the Inquisition and a Sheep; Skyler Jester as an Executioner and a Sheep; Josef Hanson as the Man Who Married His Godmother, Don Issachar, the Happy Person and Don Fernando, “the Ladies’ Man;” Jane Southern as the Hot Godmother; Sean Kelly as the Merchant Who Hates Bacon and the Pirate King; Rachelle Hanson as the University Surgeon, the Lucky Nun and Mademoiselle Clarion, a Madame; Makenzie Mazen as Don Fernando’s First Lady and a Buenos Aires Townsperson; Zach Power as Don Fernando’s Messenger from the Jungle and Rattoli, a Parisian French guide who is a mime; Philip Southern as the Revolutionary Guard; Kristin Barney as the Amazon Princess in “El Dorado” and Mademoiselle MiMi YouYou in Paris; Jesse Wollard as the Slave Bidder; and Casey More as the French Imposter a policeman.

The tech team for “Candide” includes Skyler Jester, Casey Moreno and Jesse Wollard. Mike Harris is the technical director.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Donations are always welcome.
Concessions will be available for purchase, courtesy of the Wright family.

The director is Frederico “Pico” van Houtryve.

To find out more about Charter University Prep go to

Charter University Prep

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