Children of Eden
Book by John Caird
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
October 10 - 12 at 8 PM
October 13 at 2 PM
Children of Eden is sponsored in part by a grant from the University of Michigan Credit Union
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From our Newsletter|
IN THE BEGINNING...A MAGICAL NIGHT OF THEATRE It was a stroke of luck. The year was 1991 and I was on a New Year's vacation in London with my family. We spent a lot of time in the West End, seeing six shows in seven days.
On the one night that we didn't already have theatre tickets in hand, the four of us decided to separate and see two different productions. My brother and father hadn't seen "Phantom of the Opera", but Mom and I had; we instead decided to take a chance on a show called "Children of Eden" which I had seen advertised on large posters in every Tube station.
What drew me to this new musical was that it was written by Stephen Schwartz, the Academy Award-winning composer/lyricist of the animated features "Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Prince of Egypt," whom I knew at that time for his acclaimed musicals "Godspell" and "Pippin." Still, it wasn't until we were taking our seats that I realized what a special night of theater we had ahead of us.
The show we saw was a preview performance; it was two weeks before opening night. The cast was full of notables including Ken Page ("Ain't Misbehavin'"), Kevin Colson ("Aspects of Love"), and Frances Ruffelle (a Tony winner for her role as Eponine in "Les Miz"), and as I looked around the theatre I noticed that Stephen Schwartz was sitting two rows ahead of us. He was getting ready to take notes on the show with John Caird, the Tony Award-winning co-director of "Les Misèrables" who wrote the book for "Children" and directed the London production. The icing on the cake, though, was that just as I was saying to my Mom that my dad and brother would have really loved this, I heard a "psst" from down the row. It was my brother. "Phantom" was sold out, so he and Dad had come back to the theatre and bought tickets for themselves.
Over the next couple of hours the four of us enjoyed one of those truly magical nights of theatre where the exchange of energy between the stage and the seats brings the best out of the performers and ignites the audience. The show was a joy. Time simply flew by.
"Children of Eden" has been a part of my life for over a decade; I even had a song from the show, "In Whatever Time We Have," sung at my wedding. But many people are just beginning to discover this wonderful musical.
Part of the reason the show has taken so long to reach a broader public is that, in spite of the honest energy of the London production, "Children of Eden" is a show that was almost overwhelmed with production obstacles.
When the musical was being assembled, director John Caird brought Schwartz to London with the notion of developing the show in a workshop at the Royal Shakespeare Company Ð something he had done successfully with both "Nicholas Nickleby" and "Les Misèrables." But budget cuts under then-Prime Minister Thatcher cancelled most of the RSC's season, including its entire developmental funding, so the show went straight to the West End. "It was like staging a first draft," Schwartz reminisced. "There were things we hadn't figured out yet, and things we figured out that were too late to change. We just weren't ready for a commercial production."
Making matters worse, "Children of Eden's" London debut coincided with the start of Gulf War. Subsequent fears of international travel led to a bleak tourism season in London and one of the worst slumps in West End theatre attendance in history. The musical was unable to survive.
Instead of licking his wounds and mourning the Broadway invitation that wasn't likely to come for a show that still hadn't proven itself, Schwartz got busy with small theatre productions of "Children of Eden" all over the U.S. He was constantly involved with the show, watching, persistently tweaking and tuning the piece to make it leaner and more focused. The show never did play on Broadway, although it did receive a high profile production in 1998 at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse (a recording of that production is available on RCA Victor; the now out-of-print London cast album sells on ebay periodically, always for over $100). Still, Schwartz boasts "Now it's a much better show."
People around the world seem to agree. "Children of Eden" is now one of the top 20 of musicals licensed by Music Theatre International, something almost unheard of for a show that never played on Broadway.
In two acts "Children of Eden" tells the stories of Adam and Eve, and Noah and the flood. Using a wide variety of musical styles it beautifully addresses the intergenerational conflicts and family patterns that are passed so easily from parent to child. "It's about second chances," says Schwartz. Indeed, the musical is a compelling family story of love, rage, guilt, and their consequences, as well as the need to begin again.
- Joel Aalberts, Public Relations Director
MUSICAL THEATRE DEPARTMENT PRESENTS STEPHEN SCHWARTZ'S "CHILDREN OF EDEN" ANN ARBOR - The University of Michigan School of Music's Musical Theatre Department opens its 2002-2003 season with the popular Stephen Schwartz musical Children of Eden. Performances run October 10-12, 8:00 p.m., and October 13, 2:00 p.m., at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, located within the Michigan League at 911 North University, in Ann Arbor. The show is directed by Musical Theatre Department faculty member Mark Madama.
Ticket prices are $20 and $15 reserved seating with students only $8 with ID. Tickets are available at the League Ticket Office, also located within the Michigan League. The Ticket Office is open from 10am-6pm, Monday through Friday and 10am-1pm on Saturday. Order by phone at (734) 764-2538. All major credit cards are accepted.
Known for his musicals "Godspell" and "Pippin" and for the Academy Award-winning songs he wrote for the animated features "Pocahontas" and "The Prince of Egypt," Stephen Schwartz once again turns to the Old Testament as his subject matter for "Children of Eden." In two acts the musical tells the stories of Adam and Eve, and Noah and the flood. Using a wide variety of musical styles, the show addresses the intergenerational conflicts and patterns that are passed so easily from parent to child. "It's about second chances," says Schwartz. Indeed, the musical is a compelling story of love, rage, guilt, and their consequences, as well as the need to begin again. The show is appropriate for the entire family.
"Children of Eden" is now one of the top 20 musicals licensed by Music Theatre International, something almost unheard of for a show that never played on Broadway. The musical originally premiered in London in January of 1991. Regrettably, the debut coincided with the start of Gulf War. Subsequent fears of international travel led to a bleak tourism season in London and one of the worst slumps in West End theatre attendance in history. The musical was unable to survive. Schwartz then brought the show to the states, rewriting it constantly for the numerous small theatre productions that were done over the next several years. His work watching, tweaking and tuning the piece made it leaner and more focused. Still, the show never did play on Broadway, although it did receive a high profile production in 1998 at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse. Schwartz boasts "Now it's a much better show."
Helming the UM production is faculty member Mark Madama, who directed and rewrote the revival of "Good News!" last season. Joining Mr. Madama on the production team is musical director Karl Shymanovitz. Choreographing the show is Beth Dukleth, who also choreographed the Paper Mill Playhouse version of this show. Scenic designs are by Shana McKay Burns, whose work was seen in last season's "Good News!." The lighting design is by David Neville, a guest artist who previously worked with Mr. Madama at the Music Theatre of Wichita, and with Ms. Dukleth on a production of "Children of Eden" in Wichita. Faculty member George Bacon is the costume designer.
Click here to view the Children of Eden program as a PDF file
|Costume Designs by George Bacon|
Click here to see the Children of Eden performance photos as a slide show!
Techincal Rehearsal Photos