(Above: CBT Artistic Director Calvin MacLean and KSO Music Director Aram Demirjian)
Artistic collaborations may seem like natural extensions of a performing arts scene, but they aren’t necessarily that easy to accomplish for a number of reasons. However, in a sure sign of a healthy arts scene, and generosity of a notable theatre supporter, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and Clarence Brown Theatre have found a way to make it happen.
In 2010, the two organizations joined for a production of Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus, with an interpolation of Mozart music beautifully woven in to the fabric of the play. Two years later, CBT and KSO again collaborated, this time on a production of the musical Sweeney Todd, starring Dale Dickey as Mrs. Lovett. Both productions were tremendously successful, with sold-out performances.
Although several years have passed since that last collaboration, plans are now underway for a joint production to open the 2018-19 season for both CBT and KSO: Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide. The production will be staged in the Clarence Brown Theatre August 29-September 16, 2018.
Based on the novella by Voltaire, Bernstein’s Candide was first produced on Broadway in 1956 with a libretto by Lillian Hellman. It was subsequently revived in 1974 by producer Harold Prince for a Broadway run with a new libretto by Hugh Wheeler.
Since resource-demanding productions in theatres like the Clarence Brown Theatre are fraught with financial issues, the production is being made possible by a grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation to the Clarence Brown Theatre to fund the project in conjunction with the Knoxville Symphony.
“We’ve been helping theaters all over the country make their dreams come true,” said Cockrum, a theater enthusiast who started his foundation with proceeds from winning the Powerball Lottery in 2014 on a ticket he purchased in Knoxville. “I’m very glad to help make this amazing project possible right here in my hometown and look forward to the production of the Clarence Brown Theatre and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.”
The Roy Cockrum Foundation has also supported a number of U.S. theatres including Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Goodman Theatre, Washington DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and The Acting Company of New York.
The CBT/KSO production of Candide will be directed by the Clarence Brown Theatre’s producing artistic director, Calvin MacLean, and conducted by the Knoxville Symphony’s music director, Aram Demirjian.
Tickets will be available with subscription renewals in February 2018 to Clarence Brown Theatre and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra subscribers, and to the general public in the summer of 2018.