By: Dec. 18, 2009
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Asolo Rep's Searching for Eden tackles nudity, married stars, wildlife in the Garden of Eden, and a pond on stage all wrapped up in James Still's fresh script inspired by the wit and witticism of Mark Twain's 1893 writings about Adam and Eve. The enchanting and poignant comedy runs in rotating repertory from December 18 to February 25 on the Asolo Rep mainstage, the Mertz Theatre.
Searching for Eden is directed by Melissa Kievman, with set design by Scott Bradley, costumes by David Covach, lighting by Dan Scully, sound by Matthew Parker, wigs and hair by Michelle Hart, and stage management by Sarah Gleissner.

The cast is what director Melissa Kievman calls, "A rare pleasure." The world's first couple is played by real life married couple Kris Danford and Sam Osheroff, who are also graduates of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory program and have performed with Asolo Rep. Osheroff, according to Kievman, was in the first professional production she ever directed.

According to Asolo Rep Producing Artistic Director Michael D. Edwards, "This play really caught my eye. It is a witty, fresh script that also pulls on the classic work of a great writer, Mark Twain. It remained on my mind. Then the casting stars aligned and everything else fell neatly into place for this season. We're delighted to have Kris and Sam here along with Melissa directing. The set is a big colorful playground. It even has a pond. The costume designs are clever and saucy; they're costumed for nudity. Audiences are going to have a great deal of fun with this play."

About the play: Searching for Eden is an enchanting new look at the biblical story of Adam and Eve, who are born into Paradise as the first humans. They discover the primal emotions of what it is to be human, inventing love and language. After lasting through the collapse of their idyllic world and thousands of years of life together, Adam and Eve return to the place that was the Garden of Eden, now a resort called E, for a get-away from the hectic life of present day. They seek that same paradise hoping to revitalize their love for one another.

Searching for Eden previews on Wednesday & Thursday, December 16 & 17, at 8 p.m. in the Mertz Theatre, Asolo Rep's mainstage. Opening night is Friday, December 18, at 8 p.m., followed by Asolo Rep's mingle-with-the-stars champagne afterparty in the lobby. The play runs through February 25, 2010, in rotating repertory with days and times alternating. Please consult the box office for more details.

Subscriptions include a Flex-package or Season Subscription, $119 Play Pass or $35 Student Pass; for subscriptions please call 941-351-9010 ext. 4812. Single tickets are on sale now; prices range from $13 to $60, depending on the show, day/time/seating, theatre and method of purchase. For single tickets, please contact the box office at 941-351-8000 or toll-free at 800-361-8388, or go to the website at Groups of 10+ save 20% off single ticket prices. 941-351-9010 ext. 6013 or email

DIRECTOR'S NOTE by Melissa Kievman
When it comes to the battle of the sexes, the author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus has nothing on the great American iconoclast Mark Twain. In 1893, Twain submitted his "Extracts From Adam's Diary," a daily journal ostensibly penned by the First Man in Eden, for inclusion in The Niagara Book, (an edition of writings promoting Niagara Falls as an attractive getaway). This clever and witty account of the events at the dawn of human creation had our ancestor wrestling with nature, the cosmos and above all else, the greatest mystery: Woman. In 1905, after the death of his beloved wife Livy Langdon, Twain published a companion piece entitled "Eve's Diary." A rare instance of a female narrator in Twain's canon, the First Woman was clearly not going to be sprung from a rib only to allow Adam to have the last word on the world's seminal events. These diaries are a terrific read, achingly funny, and all too insightful into the differences between men and women. Their sardonic wit, good will, and tender poignancy may even give the reader a window into what might make for a lasting relationship.

I can think of no writer better suited to be a companion for Mark Twain than contemporary playwright James Still. Though I've never directed any of his plays, I've been a long-time fan. Inspired by the "Diaries," Still has imagined his way into Adam and Eve's Eden, their expulsion from the garden, and their middle age set 2000 years in the future, crafting a "he said/she said" of biblical proportions and an affecting, open-hearted work for the stage. Still seems to share Twain's bright optimism and the ability to translate fervent feeling into resonant, plainspoken language with compassion, a gentle warmth, and humor. From his remembrance of Anne Frank in his play And Then They Came for Me, to his excavation of Abe Lincoln in The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Still's characters, whether original or historical, all exhibit a passion for living and discovery, a bewilderment and awe of life, a striking humanity.

Unlike the Adam and Eve of Searching for Eden, my primary relationship does not go back quite so far. Five years into my marriage with a two-year old daughter and a twelve-week old son I'll sometimes wonder what happens to a couple after the first bloom of love, after their children are grown, and after they meet any assortment of life's curveballs or adversities. What does it mean to live outside of Eden and how do we return to where we were originally inspired or conceived? What do we mean when we say "I love you"? I am grateful to have the opportunity to spend time in the company of two writers intrepid enough to explore life's deepest mysteries, and lend insight into our struggles to measure our lives, to learn to love, and thrive on this lonely planet.
Season sponsors include: CORPORATE MEDIA SEASON PRESENTER: COMCAST; CRYSTAL SOCIETY: Esther M. Mertz; Ulla R. Searing; Bob and Lee Peterson; MAJOR SEASON PRESENTERS: Florida State University & Florida State University Foundation; Virginia B. Toulmin; SEASON PRESENTERS: Designing Women Boutique; PRESENTERS: Asolo Repertory Theatre Guild, Co-Presidents, Richard Cheski and Barbara Maier; Warren and Margot Coville; Christine and John Currie; Joan Mendell; Jeanne and Bob Zabelle. Co-presented by: Mattison's, Fifth Third Bank, Sun Hydraulics.
Asolo Repertory Theatre is Florida's premier professional theatre and one of the most important cultural forces in the Southeastern United States. As a center for theatrical excellence, Asolo Rep crafts the highest quality productions of classical, contemporary and newly commissioned work all performed in the rarest form of rotating repertory. Featuring an accomplished resident company - complemented by distinguished guest artists - Asolo Rep offers audiences a unique and dynamic theatre experience. Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards and Managing Director Linda DiGabriele, this world-class institution has taken bold steps toward the future, building landmark partnerships and collaborations which will add to its success for generations to come.


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