The Musical “Children of Eden” Revisits the History of the Bible | Arts and theater
The musical “Children of Eden” will be on stage October 20-23 at the McLeod Theater at the SIU. The subscription series opening, based on the Genesis stories, chronicles the adventures of Adam and Eve, and of Noah and the Flood, with a score by Stephen Schwartz, who also composed the Broadway hits “Wicked” and “Godspell”.
The story does not exactly follow the Bible. Some events are edited to clearly present the timeless conflict of parents and children in an epic and heartfelt way, according to a press release from the SIU’s Department of Theater. Schwartz hypothesized that the musical touches audiences because the characters are portrayed “thoughtfully and with emotional honesty.”
“Children of Eden” began as a concept by television and theater designer Charles Lisanby for a show at Radio City Music Hall. He pitched the idea to Schwartz, who saw a story about families, and created a song cycle under the title “Family Tree,” commissioned in 1985 for a national youth retreat at Notre-Dame des Neiges in Belleville. .
Wishing to expand the play, Schwartz teamed up with Broadway director John Caird, who wrote the book. Renamed “Children of Eden”, it opened in London’s West End in 1991 and continued to develop, culminating in 1997 with a production starring Stephanie Mills at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey.
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The SIU production has a cast of 31 actors. Nyghel Bryd plays the role of the father. Graham Luker and Asia Ward play Adam and Eve. Nathaniel Washington and Hayden Schubert play rival siblings Cain and Abel. Katelin Coursey, with five actors in tandem, plays the serpentine serpent.
In the second act, Andrew Lampley plays Noah with Alexis Nwokoji as his wife, Mama Noah. The three sons of Noah, Shem, the younger, Ham, the middle, and Japheth the elder, are played by CJ Bathiany, Jeremiah Beasley and Jake Ellsworth. Aphra and Aysha, the wives of Ham and Shem, are played by Chloe Ward and Sierra Harrell. Yonah, the descendant servant of Cain, who becomes the center of the conflict between Noah and his son Japheth is played by Zoe Jensen. Audiences may remember her portrayal of Wendy Addams in last season’s “The Addams Family” or her portrayal of activist Regina in McLeod’s recent “Rock of Ages” Summer Playhouse.
To top off the credits of the cast, a set of storytellers, including Sara Aldarondo, Bryce Beliveau, Kristin Doty, Emily Dworak, David Larson, Joshua Miller, Madison Pruitt, Michael Radford, Jordan Ray, Adrian Rochelle, Brynn Scozzari, Jacelyn Stewart, Emily Turner, Imani Williams and Taz Wilson.
The cast is directed by Wes Drummond, who directs and choreographs. Tatiana Vintu designed the sets, with Andie Nicks the costumes and Mark Varns the lighting. Andrew Beyke is a sound designer and Tim Fink is a music director.
The musical is co-produced with the SIU School of Music.
The McLeod Theater is located in the communications building on the SIU Carbondale campus. Performances take place Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $ 18 and $ 6 for students. Tickets can be purchased Monday through Friday during regular box office hours by phone at 618-453-6000, in person at the McLeod Theater or SIU Arena box office, and online at Theater.siu.edu. Group discounts are available for regular adult tickets only.
A pre-show talk on Sunday will include a brief drama workshop on animal creation. The conference will take place on Sunday, October 23 at 1:30 p.m. at the CH Moe Theater before the morning performance. The workshop is open to all ages.
In addition, a public announcement of the winner (s) of the Spring 2017 Stuart Fischoff Excellence in Musical Theater Award will be made by Rachel Gordon Fischoff prior to the start of the performance on October 23.