July 30, 31, August 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 13*, 14, 15
(please note additional Thursday performance)
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book by John Caird
Directed by E. Kyle Minor
Musical Direction by Jane Matson / Orchestra conducted by Tom Morris
Choreographed by Matt Farina
"...a musically rich, thoughtful and provocative work, beautifully directed...filled with colorful touches, quaint animals, vivid costumes and a large cast that successfully mixes children and adults."
--Julie Stern, Newtown Bee
Click here to read the full Newtown Bee review
A NOTE FROM COMPOSER STEPHEN SCHWARTZ:
The book of Genesis has fascinated and inspired dramatists for centuries, from the medieval mystery plays to such modern American theatre writers as Arthur Miller and Richard Rodgers. Still, when John Caird and I began work on CHILDREN OF EDEN, it was with a certain amount of trepidation. After all, this was the Bible we were dealing with. Who were we to be putting our own interpretation on these sacred stories, or worse yet, adding characters and incidents? How would audiences react to a vision of Noah, Eve, Cain, and especially God Himself that did not exactly jibe with what they had heard in Sunday school? It was while in the throes of these concerns that I came across, as part of my research for this project, a surprising discovery, contrary to my previous belief, I learned that the Book of Genesis was not a spontaneous account that first appeared complete and original in the Old Testament. It was rather a highly edited version of ancient Hebrew tribal beliefs and stories which had been handed down orally from generation to generation. Many elements were changed, omitted, or embroidered upon over time. Indeed, in the early chapters of the Old Testament itself, often two contrary versions are presented: Were Adam and Eve created simultaneously, as in Genesis I:27, or Adam first, as in II:22? Did the Flood last forty days, as in VII:12, or 150, as in VII:24? I came across other sources, in a book of Hebrew myths compiled by Robert Graves, and even whole unfamiliar Books of the Bible, edited out of the Old Testament but collected as The Forgotten Books of Eden, translated from ancient Egyptian and published by World Bible Publishers. This version was so radical that it included twin sisters for Cain and Abel! Finally, I read (and highly recommend) a book called Memories & Visions of Paradise by Richard Heinberg, which examines the stories of the Lost Eden and the Flood in many cultures and convincingly advances the argument, in highly scientific and rational language, that these events actually happened historically, though not precisely as described in Genesis. After all these readings and more, many of which inspired and influenced our own interpretation, John and I feel more comfortable about playing slightly loose with these Bible tales. We hope our audiences come to our view of these wonderful stories with the same spirit of adventure, awe, and delight as we present them to you.
FULL PLOT SYNOPSIS
American version of Children of Eden
by Carol de Giere (www.musicalschwartz.com)
ACT ONE: The story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel.
A chorus of Storytellers describes the beginning of the world. Father (God is always called Father in this show to emphasize the parallel with earthly fathers) comes on and declares, "Let there be…." He builds the world based on his dream. He creates Adam and Eve and gives them a perfect place to live in the Garden of Eden.
The character Eve is like any modern restless and curious child who asks many questions, among them, what's that glowing tree on top of the hill? Father tells them about the tree of knowledge from which they must never eat the fruit. To divert their attention, Father asks Adam and Eve to name the animals. With the help of the Storytellers pretending to be animals, Adam, Eve, and Father name them. Exhausted afterwards, they sleep.
In "Father's Day," Father sings of his contentment as a father who has a universe to pass along to his children.
One day, Eve goes up to the tree of knowledge and it enchants her. She sings, "The Spark of Creation," about the fire of creativity and exploration in her blood. In the song, "In Pursuit of Excellence," a Snake convinces Eve to pursue knowledge and eat the fruit of the tree.
Eve offers Adam some apple juice, which ultimately leads Father to exile Eve. Adam has to choose between staying in the Garden or departing with Eve, a conflict covered in "A World Without You."
As time passes after they are expelled, the Storytellers sing about Adam and Eve's desolate new environment in "The Wasteland." Eve gives birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. As the boys grow up, their behavior echoes that of their parents: Cain becomes more curious about the world while Abel remains obedient to Adam.
In the song "Lost in the Wilderness," Cain tries to convince Abel not to accept the status quo of their lives and to join him on a quest to make a life somewhere else. When Father comes upon the two brothers, Cain declares he will find his own destiny and storms off. When Adam learns that Cain is gone, he curses him. Then remembering his boys when they were younger, he joins Eve and Abel in singing about the benefits of their home life and homespun material goods in "Close to Home."
Cain returns and describes what he has found, "A Ring Of Stones." This proves they are not the only people in the world. Cain, wanting to be a part of a larger family and begins to leave, but Adam blocks his way, wanting to prevent change and possible danger. Even though Cain's resentment is directed to Adam, when Abel tries to hold him back, Cain kills him with a rock in the scuffle.
Cain runs. Father appears before him, marks Cain's forehead, and curses him and all his children in the song, "The Mark of Cain."
The first act ends several decades later. By then Eve is ah elderly widow, ready to pass on. She gathers her grandchildren together, born from her third son, Seth. During the song, "Children of Eden," Eve momentarily communicates with Father, and sings of returning home to Paradise. She asks her family "not to blame us, we were just human," referring to her act of leaving the Garden with Adam, and the influence of one generation's experience on their descendants.
ACT TWO: The story of Noah and the flood.
Act II begins in light, a thousand years after Act One. Storytellers sing about who begat whom in "Generations." They trace the line of Adam to Noah and his three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Father wants Noah to quickly finish building the ark, so he can flood the world and destroy the race of Cain. Due to the forthcoming flood, youngest son Japheth is on a deadline to find a partner to bring on the ark to be saved. Japheth doesn't want his father to choose for him, and announces he will bring his own future bride to dinner. Noah and the family eagerly prepare for this in the song, "A Piece of Eight."
Japheth tries to bring his true love Yonah, the servant girl, to the table. But she bears the mark of Cain and this causes a furor. Japheth storms off just as animals start appearing on their way to the ark. Noah and his family try to organize the animals, but more and more keep coming on during the dance, "The Return of the Animals."
After everyone is onboard the ark, Noah sees Yonah standing alone and apologizes that he can not take her with him.
Left alone, Yonah sings "Stranger To The Rain" sharing how she is accustomed to being ostracized. But Japeth insists he will hide her in the ark. They sing, "In Whatever Time We Have," at this dramatic moment when they don't know how long either of them will live.
The rain comes and floods the land. But after forty days and forty nights downpour still continues, creating a life-threatening situation because of food shortage. Yonah worries that she is the reason the rains have not stopped. She sends a dove to find land during the song, "Sailor Of The Skies." Shem and Ham find Yonah and there is a scuffle between Japeth and Ham, reflecting the Adam and Cain struggle of Act I. This time, Yonah stands in the way and blocks a murder.
"Mama Noah," Noah's wife, speaks privately to her husband who reveals that Father no longer communicates with him anyway. Mama Noah suggests he must be the father now and make his choices from within himself. Alone, Noah reflects on his own choices in the song, "The Hardest Part of Love." At a distance, Father too can be seen reflecting on his need to let go and let his progeny choose their destiny.
Noah calls the clan together to perform a ceremony. For a moment, no one but him knows if he is gong to throw Japheth and Yonah overboard or bless their union. He makes the more humane and compassionate choice by marrying them.
The dove returns with an olive branch and in "Ain't It Good," Mama Noah, joined by everyone, celebrates their new hope for dry land and new life.
When the ark lands, the three sons decide to travel in different directions with different animals. Japheth announces that he and Yonah will search for Eden.
The musical ends with the song, "In The Beginning," exploring the challenges and blessing of free will.
Father: Walter Cramer
Adam: Marc Fanning
Eve: Lauren Romeo
Snake: Annie Bryson, Allie Bukowski, Anna DeMasi, Caitlin Keeler, Stephen Michelsson
Young Cain: Jack Morris
Young Abel: Camden Archambeau
Older Cain: Nathan Mandracchia
Older Abel: Stephen Michelsson
Noah: Ted Schwartz
Mama Noah: Stacey Snyder
Aphra: Kelley Reagan
Aysha: Lissa Bak
Yonah: Kate Cummings
Japeth: Jacob Eventoff
Ham: Brian Bremer
Shem: Stephen Papallo
Storytellers: Beth Bria, Joseph Bukowski, Kevin Downing, Janice Gabriel, Brianna Henley, Barbara Kessler, Bill Lamoureux, Deanna Lasco, Mike Lozier, John McMahon, Natalie Michaels, Kieran Minor, Brooke Morris, Julie Oakley, Lexie Oakley, Emma Okell, Siobhan Ryan, Jessica Schwartz, Priscilla Squiers, Matt Sumski, Kate Valiska
Children's Ensemble: Jack Armstrong, Destiny Claxton, Bianca Drougas, Despina Drougas, Olivia Minor, Rachel Salvador, Erin Vaughn
1. "Let There Be" - Father and Storytellers
2. "Tree of Knowledge" - Father, Adam
3. "Naming" - Father, Eve, Adam, Storytellers
4. "Grateful Children" - Adam, Eve
5. "Father's Day" - Father, Storytellers
6. "Perfect" - Storytellers, Father, Adam, Eve
7. "Spark of Creation" - Eve
8. "In Pursuit of Excellence" - Eve and Snake
9. "End of a Perfect Day" - Storytellers
10. "Childhood's End" - Storytellers, Eve, Father
11. "World Without You" - Adam, Father, Eve
12. "Explusion" - Father, Storytellers
13. "Wasteland" - Storytellers
14. "Spark of Creation" [Reprise 1] - Eve
15. "Lost in the Wilderness" - Abel, Cain
16. "Close to Home" - Adam, Eve, Young Abel, Young Cain, Abel
17. "Ring of Stones" - Cain, Adam, Storytellers, Eve, Abel
18. "Death of Abel" - A Storyteller, Eve
19. "Mark of Cain" - Storytellers, Father
20. "Children of Eden" - Eve, Company
1. "Generations" - Soloist, Storytellers
2. "Gathering Storm" - Noah, Father
3. "A Piece of Eight" - Storytellers, Noah, Yonah, Japeth, Mama, Ham, Shem, Aysha, Aphra, Female Storyteller
4. "Return of the Animals" (instrumental)
5. "Noah's Lullaby" - Storytellers, Noah
6. "Stranger to the Rain" - Yonah
7. "In Whatever Time We Have" - Japeth, Yonah
8. "Flood" - Father, Storytellers
9. "What Is He Waiting For?" - Noah, Mama, Ham, Shem, Aysha, Aphra
10. "Sailor of the Skies" - Yonah
11. "Spark of Creation" [Reprise 2] - Mama Noah
12. "Hardest Part of Love" - Noah, Father
13. "Words of Doom" - Storytellers
14. "Hour of Darkness" - Noah, Yonah, Japeth, Mama, Ham, Shem, Aysha, Aphra
15. "Ain't It Good?" - Mama, Company except Father
16. "Precious Children" - Father
17. "In the Beginning" - Company