How many young performers have sat in the audience of a great musical and wished that they could be up there on stage? This June, that wish will come true for a lucky group of teenagers when Music Theater Works presents Leonard Bernstein’s musical classic “Candide” as its annual Youth Production.

Since 2014, the company has followed up one of its season’s professional mainstage productions with a teen performance on the stage of Cahn Auditorium, fully costumed with sound, lighting and scenic elements from the professional production.

Past Youth Productions have included “Fiddler on the Roof,” “South Pacific” and “My Fair Lady.” This year’s “Candide,” which tells of the adventures of an idealistic young man on a journey across the globe, may be the most ambitious choice yet.

Bernstein’s exuberant score is full of musical hurdles that few high school students will face, but after seeing the talent on display in these shows over the past few years, the Youth Production team decided they could put a cast together that can meet the challenge.

A challenge is just what these young performers are looking for; one participant in last year’s “My Fair Lady” said, “I think the whole experience let me grow as a performer and as a person within two weeks, through the intense training, the supportive, professional teachers and the creative, fun students I was able to work with. This program gave me an amazing opportunity that I never thought I would get in my high school career.”

Rehearsals begin on June 12; the performance, free and open to the public, will take place at Evanston’s Cahn Auditorium on Thursday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m. Participation in the program is based on audition; for more information about registration and tuition, visit

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