By PHIL JOHNSON
Special to Atmore News
Saturday, February 17, Greater Escambia Council for the Arts will hold auditions for this year’s musical, Children of Eden. Auditions will be at 2 p.m. at the Greater Escambia Center for the Arts, corner of Trammell and Nashville.
Please consider being a part of this production. We want this to be a truly special event.
This amazing piece by Stephen Swartz, composer of the classics Godspell and Wicked, is based on the first eight books of Genesis. Show dates are tentatively set for April 19-22. There will be no school shows. Auditions will be cold read and 16-32 bars of an accompanied song of your choice. Some part singing may be required.
Children of Eden is Stephen Schwartz’s favorite of his own shows. He wrote, in answer to a question, “I think the work of which I am most proud is Children of Eden, for several reasons. To begin with, I think it’s my best score musically. It also contains the song that is maybe my personal favorite of my songs from a purely visceral point of view, ‘Stranger to the Rain,’ a song that embodies how I feel about parenting (which is very important to me), ‘The Hardest Part of Love,’ and above all, the song that most espouses my philosophy of life and which, if I had one song to be remembered by, is the one I would choose: ‘In the Beginning.’
There are more of the themes that I return to over and over – personal responsibility, rebellion, intellectual independence, as well as overcoming family dysfunctions – in this work than in any of my other shows. And I am proud of the fact that I kept working on the show after its initial failure in its London premiere, so that it has become a viable and often performed piece that I know will live on after I’m gone.”
The musical Children of Eden is now in the top 20 of musicals most frequently licensed by Music Theatre International, which is unusual for a show that never played on Broadway. Its popularity has spread by word of mouth. The score is a favorite of many Schwartz fans and includes a vast range of styles beyond “typical” Broadway. The love song “In Whatever Time We Have” is thought to be the most popular Schwartz song performed at weddings.
Children of Eden is perhaps the least describable Schwartz musical because it holds meaning on so many levels. The excuse for the story is Genesis – both the first books and the story of Noah’s ark. But audiences immediately experience that the relationships between Father, Adam, and Eve has more to do with earthly families, their immediate challenges and their generational legacies.
Phil Johnson is the GECA artistic director.