Jesse Harris Stiller and cast. Photo: Dan Canon
Children of Eden
Book by John Caird, based on a concept by Charles Lisanby
Music & lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Directed by Valerie Canon & Jennifer Starr
Review by Jason Cooper
Entire contents are copyright © 2019 by Jason Cooper. All rights reserved.
To be fully transparent I have to admit, Stephen Schwartz is my favorite musical theatre composer. His works run the gamut from the screen: The Prince of Egypt, to the stage: Godspell, Pippin, and the unstoppable juggernaut known as Wicked.
In Schwartz’s stellar canon Children of Eden is an oddity of sorts. A longtime favorite of regional and community theatres, the show has never enjoyed a Broadway run, which is a shame because in my humble opinion it contains some of the composer’s most beautiful songs. Mind’s Eye’s production does them justice.
As a musical retelling of The Creation and The Flood stories from The Book of Genesis, Children of Eden is essentially an allegory about growing up and leaving the nest. The show requires a huge cast and is relatively epic in its scope, which can be a risky endeavor in The Mex theatre. Co-directors Valerie Cannon and Jennifer Starr make excellent use of the space by making the wise choice of staging the show as simply as possible, allowing the songs to tell the story, and by assembling some stellar vocalists.
As “The Father” Greg Woods brings his beautiful voice to a tricky role. As a character “The Father” is essentially every parent, specifically every parent who grows frustrated when his children refuse to take “because I said so” as an answer.
As Adam/Noah and Eve/Mama Noah Wesley Thomas and Jess Harris Stiller deliver knockout performances. Thomas has one of the most gorgeous voices in town and captures a father’s pathos well. Harris Stiller is a revelation. She brings the house down with the eleven o’clock number “Ain’t it Good.” I cannot wait to see this actress in more productions.
Emily Vergason and Adam Byrd do a marvelous job with their duet on the beautiful “In Whatever Time We Have.” Also giving a standout turn is Geoffrey Barns as the tempting serpent who tears the roof off the place with his powerhouse voice in the act 2 opener “Generations.”
However, it is the entire ensemble that makes the production soar. There is nothing better than hear the beautiful music of Stephen Schwartz sung by a symphony of heavenly voices. Go see Children of Eden, bring the family. It is a lovely production of a wonderful show. Kudos to all involved.
Children of Eden
February 22, 23, March 1 & 2 @ 7:30pm
February 24 & March 3 @ 3:00pm
Mind’s Eye Theatre Company
Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
For tickets: Kentuckycenter.org
Jason Cooper has worked in professional, regional, and community theatre for over twenty years. After receiving his BFA in theatre performance he spent three seasons with the award-winning Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN. After working in theatres all over the country for a time, Jason settled in Chicago and worked with The Chicago Dramatists, Apple Tree Theatre, and Red Moon Theatre before returning home to Louisville to become a high school English teacher. Locally, Jason has worked extensively as an actor and director primarily for Pandora Productions, CenterStage, The Bard’s Town, Derby Dinner Playhouse, and Stage One.
2019 Arts-Louisville/Broadway World Theatre Award Sponsorship provided by