Anderson, Indiana

Families have hope in ‘Children of Eden’

Fri, 2010-10-01 09:58 -- univcomm
October 1, 2010

Parents take heed: There is hope for your children.

Just look at the stories in the book of Genesis. Though it can be a bit disheartening to hear of Adam and Eve turning away from their father, or Cain slaying brother Abel, there is hope for future generations.

Or so says the message in "Children of Eden," a musical on stage at Byrum Hall at Anderson University.

childrenofedenIt’s a timely Homecoming message for alumni this weekend. [Photo on left: A snake, portrayed by David Evans, tempts Eve, portrayed by Megan Bird, with the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge during a dress rehearsal of Anderson University’s production of “Children of Eden.” The other snakes in the background are portrayed by Audrey Brinkley, Jennie Fights, Courtney Monk and Kayla Shoemaker.]

Told as a fable, the musical encompasses various faiths but focuses on the first 10 chapters of Genesis, from the group dance that celebrates creation to the arrival of Noah at Mt. Ararat.

The ark dominates the set; it is under construction throughout the play (much like the fashioning of the concept of family), an effect beautifully created by set designer Brandon Kirkham and accented by changing lights and effects. At first, however, you may also be transfixed by costume designer’s Patty Daehn’s tied-dyed approach to Biblical dress.

Though the play suffered poor reviews when it opened in London in 1991, AU director Laurel Goetzinger has sharply refocused its premise on family bonds and on the elements that bring a man and woman to unite as one entity. For example, Goetzinger split the role of Creator into two parts, male and female, to represent the parents of creation. They address the generations as their own children and grandchildren.

As a result, the focus is on pairs and the singing of stories by couples. Duo-wise, the standouts are:

  • Rich and bold Mitchell Brown as the sturdy, strong Cain and a heartfelt Evan Dean as a naive Abel
  • Samuel Steere as a tender Adam and Megan Bird as a self-assured Eve
  • Jessie Wallace as Mama Noah (bring on the gospel!) and James Geary as Noah

Singularly, Kylie Swanson adds a plaintive, demure quality to the role of Yonah.

In the dress rehearsal I saw on Tuesday, the orchestra — jazzy and spry — was overwhelming and drowned out some crucial elements in the lyric-driven plot. That was corrected by Act 2.

A highlight is the second act’s loading of animals onto the ark in a festive parade of actor-held puppets.

AU’s "Children of Eden" may be simple in message but its delivery is creative, filled with motion and supported by strong student vocalists.

Though we don’t always look at the family tales in Genesis as uplifting, the fable-toned "Children of Eden" shows these stories are unifying. As generations move through history, they seek optimism and unity. So parents, there is hope for the kids.

"Children of Eden" is good Homecoming fare.

If you go

"Children of Eden," a musical based on the book of Genesis, directed by Laurel Goetzinger

  • Where: Byrum Hall, Anderson University
  • When: 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3; 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 8 and 9; and 2:30 p.m., Sunday Oct. 2
  • Tickets: $12 general admission; $10 for seniors and military; $5 for students. Call box office at 641-4351.

—Scott L. Miley is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: Don Knight. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.