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Children of Eden

a Musical
by John Caird (book) and Stephen Schwartz (songs)

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 5540

SHOWING : July 18, 2019 - September 01, 2019



This season we’re going Old Testament with our season opening musical CHILDREN OF EDEN. With music from the great American composer who brought us "Wicked" and "Pippin" comes the epic masterpiece that sets the Book of Genesis soaring. The musical encompasses the story of creation as well as the great flood, but also examines the complex love between parents and children. Don’t miss this tale of love, family, and the power of forgiveness.

Director Justin Anderson
Choreographer Ricardo Aponte
Music Director Ann-Carol Pence
Cain/Japheth Russell Alexander II
Storyteller/Snake Leslie Bellair
Eve/Mama Naima Carter
Aysha/Snake Chloe Cordle
Adam/Noah Maxim Gukhman
Storyteller/Snake Willis Hao
Storyteller TereLyn Jones
Young Abel JJ Jones
Father Brad Raymond
Abel/Ham Haden Rider
Storyteller Olivia Zimmerman
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


A Religious Experience
by playgoer
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
I can almost see a photo of "Children of Eden" as a glossy two-page spread in American Theatre magazine, with Shannon Robert’s scenic design, Maria Cristina Fusté’s lighting design, Milton Cordero’s projection design, Alan Yeong’s costume design, Lindsey Ewin’s wig/hair design, and Cody Russell’s properties design featured in almost any scene. On a purely visual level, the production is stunning. A slide show of photos of each scene, accompanied by a soundtrack of one of the many choral numbers musically directed by Ann-Carol Pence, would be breathtaking. But when the slide show verges on three hours, you’d probably be past your breaking point. That’s approximately the experience of attending this production.

"Children of Eden" is more of a song cycle than a musical play. Act one gives us the story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel and Seth. Act two relates the Biblical story of Noah. It’s all very ponderous and self-important, with a bit more of an involving and focused plot in the second act. As I overheard at intermission, this is a production that should be advertised at churches.

Justin Anderson’s direction and Ricardo Aponte’s choreography make full use of the large cast, with lots of motion and lots of choral speech and song. "Children of Eden" is a show that gives its ensemble a great deal to do. Ms. Pence has ensured that the band and voices are of equal excellence, and Daniel Terry’s sound design blends the sounds without muddying the massed choral voices.

It’s possible that the complicated technical requirements of the production are beyond the capabilities of the team running the show. At the performance I attended, there were two apparent technical errors: a lack of lighting change on the first approach of Adam and Eve to the Tree of Knowledge, although the script explicitly states that something notable should have happened; and a crescent moon projection obvious during the second act when song lyrics are explicitly referring to the sun appearing. It’s just another indication that the production values, while high, do not always enhance the script.

The cast has no true standouts, although some cast members have larger roles than others. Brad Raymond, as Father, certainly is costumed and wigged differently than the others, looking almost like a baroque black Bach. Maxim Gukhman, as Adam and Noah, presents a chiseled torso. Russell Alexander II, as Cain and Japheth (or "Japeth," as the poorly proofread program has it), has lots of fire. Haden Rider, as Abel and Ham, lets his golden voice shine. Naima Carter Russell, as Eve and Mrs. Noah, holds her own. Briana Young, as Yonah in the second act, adds some heart to the show. Leslie Bellair impresses in her glorified ensemble role.

Aurora’s "Children of Eden" is easier to admire than to like. Its religious content is highlighted by Father making priestly gestures (of multiple religions), and it definitely creates the aura that this is a show that is Good For You. You may well find yourself praying during it, if only praying that the interminable first act will come to an end soon.

I would consider "Children of Eden" to be a succès d’estime rather than a truly popular production. At the performance I attended, there were a few people who consistently started applause, with the rest of the audience joining in a bit grudgingly. It’s certainly a professional production on which all sorts of money and talent have been lavished, but a sense of joy is completely lacking in it. It’s beautiful, but ponderous. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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