With its 257 onstage deaths, endless lighthearted banter about rape and whoring, two floggings, and used-condom sight gags, Candide is not exactly a show for kids. The inevitable flaw in any version of Candide is inherent in Voltaire’s source novel—in fact, it’s Voltaire’s point: the randomness of real life, as opposed to the callous rationalization of every atrocity as God’s will. And so Voltaire makes a lot of random adventures befall his hero—no point, no divine plan—and the musical has to do the same. This production uses John Caird’s 1999 rewrite of Candide’s book, which has been tinkered with again and again since the Leonard Bernstein musical’s 1956 premiere. David Armstrong’s staging is a visually stylish and uncluttered, with the cast clothed (by Lynda L. Salsbury) and coiffed in sharp mid-century fashion. The 5th Avenue’s cast make these problematic tales as entertaining as possible, though I generally found myself a bit impatient to get to the next song. GAVIN BORCHERT [See the full review.]

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 & 7 p.m. Starts: May 25. Continues through June 13, 2010

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