Circle Players' 66th Season Continues With CHILDREN OF EDEN
Mix together fable, biblical stories, music and a cast filled with talented local performers, and the result is Circle Players' production of Children of Eden, running March 18-April 3, at Nashville's Z. Alexander Looby Theater. This epic musical by the award-winning creators of Wicked (Stephen Schwartz) and Les Miserables (John Caird) continues Circle's 66th season, as the oldest community theater organization in Middle Tennessee.
Children of Eden is a twist on two Old Testament stories Genesis, set to Schwartz's musical score. 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, who has had a passion for Children of Eden for years, and is thrilled to finally be able to direct the show. "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 appealing elements. Schwartz has called it the favorite of all his musicals. His other Broadway scores include Wicked, Pippin and Godspell.
Another noteworthy element of Circle Players' production is the costumes: "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," says Waldrep.
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 Children of Eden in various smaller venues around the United States, where it caught on and developed an impressive following.
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.
In addition to Waldrep, the creative team includes Diana K. Poe (Music Director), Dann Childers (Assistant Music Director) and Stephanie Jones-Benton (Choreographer).
"Children of 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."
Performances are March 18-April 3, at Z. Alexander Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard. Show times are: Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m. Tickets for Children of Eden may be purchased online at www.circleplayers.net at $18 for adults, $15 for students (elementary through college) and seniors (60-plus). Prices are higher at the door. Thursdays (March 24 and 31) are Pay-What-You-Can. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. For group sales and to make all reservations, email email@example.com or call (615) 332-7529.
photos by Bralyn Stokes