Mix together biblical stories, a bit of fable, soaringly beautiful music and talented Nashville theater folks and the result is the Circle Players production of CHILDREN OF EDEN. This musical by the award-winning creators of WICKED (Stephen Schwartz) and LES MISĖRABLES (John Caird) continues Circle’s 66th season with performances Friday (March 18) through April 3 at Z. Alexander Looby Theater (2301 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.).
CHILDREN OF EDEN is largely a fun twist on two stories from the Old Testament book of Genesis set to beautiful music. Act One tells the story of Adam and Eve; Act Two tells the story of Noah and The Flood. The score uses a variety of musical styles (gospel, pop, world music, classical) to convey the family relationships and conflicts that often get passed from generation to generation.
While the musical is loosely based on religious text, it offers a fresh perspective on these stories by framing them in terms of the relationship between parents and children. It is the human tale of families experiencing love, rage, guilt and their consequences as well as second chances that should resonate most with audience members, according to Josh Waldrep, who directs the Circle Players’ production.
“Whether it be love, hardships, compassion, pain, forgiveness or heartbreak– each person will hopefully find that human experience in this show,” says Waldrep. “I believe this show has a power in its message and that people will fall in love with it like I did many years ago.”
The music in CHILDREN OF EDEN is one of its most endearing elements. Composer Schwartz has publicly stated this is his favorite among all his musicals; that’s an impressive statement about a canon that includes such well-regarded hits as WICKED, PIPPIN and GODSPELL.
Other production elements sure to captivate audiences are the show’s puppets and costumes (credit goes to costume designers Rachel Gallup and Renee Luttrell as well as animal mask designer Gina Gomez and puppet wrangler Jennifer Kleine), according to Waldrep. “The colorful and fantastic animal puppets and costumes will dazzle in this show. The ensemble will double as animals multiple times throughout the show and are sure to be a hit with children and those still young of heart,” he says.
CHILDREN OF EDEN has become one of the most frequently licensed musicals, yet it has never played on Broadway. It first debuted in London and was well received, but it faced a number of production problems and budget cuts that prevented it from making it to Broadway. Instead, Schwartz began producing EDEN in various smaller venues around the United States, where it caught on and developed an impressive following.
“EDEN is a show for all ages,” says Waldrep. “It has elements that entertain, provoke thought and teach us that we are the key to the beauty of humanity and all of its complexities.”
Circle’s production features a cast of 26 local performers, many appearing for the first time in a Circle Players’ production. Among the featured actors are David Arnold as Father, Wesley King as Adam and Lauren Jones as Eve. A complete list of the cast and their bios may be seen online by clicking here.
Besides Waldrep, the Creative Team includes Diana K. Poe (Music Director), Dann Childers (Assistant Music Director) and Stephanie Jones-Benton (Choreographer). Music and lyrics are by multiple GRAMMY and OSCAR winner Schwartz with orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin and Martin Erskinebook. The show’s book is by Caird based on a concept by Charles Lisanby. CHILDREN OF EDEN is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI) and all authorized performance material has been supplied by MTI.
Show times are Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets ($18 for adults, $15 for elementary through college students and seniors 60-plus) may be purchased online by clicking here; prices are higher at the door. Thursdays (March 24 and 31) are Pay-What-You-Can; discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For group sales and other inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (615) 332-7529.