Index Top Bar
Index Sidebar

Exit 22

Children of Eden
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz Book by John Caird

Director Gillian Barber Musical Director Kevin Michael Cripps Coreographer Shelley Stewart Hunt Set Design Dave Winstanley Lighting Design Des Price Costume Design Kim Bothen

Dates 12-18 March 2006 Venue Exit 22, Capilano College Performing Arts Theatre Reviewer Heidi Hoff

Exit 22 Children of Eden

Anticipation always fills the air before a live performance. Will you be entertained, enthralled or disappointed? As I took my seat before the start of Children of Eden, I wondered what was to come. The simplicity of the black stage adorned with an image of the Earth soon faded as Exit 22’s production of Children of Eden came to life and blossomed into a magical, vibrant, extravaganza filled with ever-changing scenes and fervent song executed by a top-notch cast and production crew.

Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz’s two-act musical, based on the book by John Caird and under the direction of local talent, Gillian Barber, takes stories from the first nine chapters of Genesis and adapts them to show how parents and children face the same joys, pains and battles as they have since the beginning of time.

In Act 1, a chorus of storytellers sets the scene as Father (a perfectly cast Mat Baker) creates the earth based on his dream in the song, “Let There Be.” Adam (expressive Elliott James) and Eve (immensely talented Jennifer Neumann) come to life soon after and revel in their idyllic Garden of Eden, but their innocence is short-lived.

Like a modern-day curious child, Eve is eager to explore the unknown as she sings, “The Spark of Creation.” She spots the glowing Tree of Knowledge at the top of a hill and is drawn to it but is warned by Father never to eat the fruit. The snake, effectively portrayed by five actresses moving in undulating unison encourage Eve to give in to her desires. Eve later tries to trick Adam into drinking the juice of the apple that causes her to be exiled from Eden. Adam chooses to follow Eve and both are banished by Father forever. So begins the repeating themes of family, love, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Act 2 opens with Noah (a commanding John Fitzgerald), Mama Noah (soul-voiced Laura Koberstein), their two sons and their wives as they prepare to meet unmarried son Japheth’s future wife. Little do they know his betrothed is Yonah, a descendant of Cain. Against the marriage at first, Noah relents as he sings the emotional, “The Hardest Part of Love” and gives his blessing.

While the performances and the accompanying orchestra are brilliant, it’s the “animals,” actors in body suits donning masks, feathers, and straw for porcupine quills, who practically steal the scene as they gather from various points of the stage and theatre to board the ark.

Particularly outstanding are the long-necked giraffes and the lively elephant which makes its way to the stage past awed audience members. Kudos to puppeteer Heidi Wilkinson and the Theatre 257 Props team. The play ends with a stirring rendition of “In the Beginning.”

The Children of Eden ensemble is a well-rehearsed and collectively talented group who immerse themselves in their roles. At times I felt transported to Broadway from my seat at the cozy Capilano College Theatre. My nine-year-old daughter was equally impressed.

© 2006 Heidi Hoff