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A fan's enthusiastic letter about Candide demonstrates that not everyone was disappointed with the 1956 production.
". . . I have seen Candide three times, each time loving it more than previously. . . . All of my friends are either delighted with the show or disappointed and displeased with themselves that they never got around to seeing Candide before it closed. I, myself, have the record, and play it every other evening at the risk of neglecting my work, on which it is impossible to concentrate when listening to such enthralling music.
"With a little courage, I am sure the production could have lasted several more months, and even if the majority of the show-going public is not yet ready for such fine music, I am certain that in the not too distant future, it will be. . . ."
In late 1958, Candide's authors attempted to revise the script and score for the London production. In this letter, Ms Hellman addresses some of the revisions:
I've given up the hope of the phone. And maybe it's better to have it on paper, anyway. I've written to Dick and talked to him. His Christmas vacation comes up soon and it will be about the only working time he'll have.
Bobby, Stewart and I had three long conferences. I thought there wouldn't be more that a week's work on the script. But I was wrong. Never mind: it has to be done and I feel cheerful now about it.
These were the decisions. They all had good reasons, but I hope we won't have to go into the reasons in any more conferences. It's only by the greatest tensing of fists that I can bear any more work on "Candide".
First, and the only real work for you: No question that B. A. boredom song did not work either in Bway production or in concert. But we need a song there, in that place. Stewart has rewritten the scene, and most of it is pretty good, but not good enough. I'll do it over. I think this time the song should be between ladies, most of the verses for the Old Lady, and should be a cozy conference between women about why men love them. They have everything all wrong: men like you to be extravagant because it makes them seem rich; men like you to be lazy because it shows you are aristocratic; men like you to nag because it shows you still have an interest in their affairs, Etc. I am spitballing, of course. Any "wisdom from women" will do. I have written all this to Dick.
Second: We need two new stanzas of Best of All Possible to conform with new scene. I have written to Dick.
Third: Lisbon now has a kind of ballet and the experts thought Hurry, Hurry, Hurry could be used. That's up to you.
Four: We have decided to use Touche's lyric - part of it -for What a Day. Was it ever orchestrated?
Five: Martin now opens B. A. with one or two verses of Best of All now to be called Worst of All, and in a slow version. I have written this to Dick.
Six: We have restored some of the original Venice society talk in small vignettes to come between music. The plan is to use Lady Frilly for the music. (Dancers will perform)
Seven: We have restored travel scenes, -- not restored, done new ones in pantomime - between Venice and Westphalia. I think travel music is in published score. Is that true?
Eight: Bobby wants to know who has the parts for the musicians.
The show goes into rehearsal Feb 23 and Bobby sails for London the first week in January. From here on in will you get in touch with Dick, and with Bobby for what information he needs.
The trouble with Candide is that it didn't fail.
Love and kisses. Lillian
Ten years after the original Broadway production of Candide, Hellman and Bernstein attempted a revival in concert form. She wrote to him on August 16, 1966:
". . . I believe you are right in thinking that the proper form is a concert version. I have thought so for a long time. But it must be a good version because the cult-memories of the show--some part of which are associated with a most marred book--will disappear if enough of that book is not there. If the Lord was in his Heaven, if the theatre was different, if you and I had different histories, I would like to do that version with the agreement that only I would write it, nobody would alter it, and there would be no collaboration except for those concerned to make the usual bright, or not bright, comments and to have them accepted or rejected as I would on any other work in the theatre. But I do not believe this condition can ever come about . . . ."
Lyricist Richard Wilbur expressed his willingness to try yet again to revive the show, this time with Harold Prince at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He wrote to Bernstein on February 3, 1972:
". . . Of course I should be happy to forget all misunderstandings or differences, have our chaps draw up a fresh agreement, and see if we cannot truly collaborate in salvaging Candide: I agree with you that there is so much life in the show, so much that is good and finished, that it would be a shame to abandon it . . . ."
Harold Prince wrote to Bernstein on March 9, 1973 that Hugh Wheeler had begun revising the book for Candide. The new book would prove crucial to the show's success later that year.
". . . I am intrigued by the possibility of rethinking Candide. In modest terms. To this end I have talked with Hugh Wheeler, who is in the Caribbean with Lillian's original script, the published version, and Voltaire. . . ."
On December 1, 1956, Candide opened on Broadway. Stella Adler and Harold Clurman sent Bernstein the following telegram:
"WE FEEL SURE THAT THE SCORE WILL LIVE LONGER THAN THE SHOW AND WE HOPE THAT THE SHOW HAS A LONG RUN."