WMU News

University Theatre presents Children of Eden

Feb. 15, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- WMU's Department of Theatre presents John Caird and Stephen Schwartz's newest musical Children of Eden, Feb. 17-20 and 24-26, in Shaw Theatre.

Based on a concept by Charles Lisanby, this beautiful story follows the joys and sorrows of families beginning with the creation of Earth and continuing through the first nine books of the Bible. Directing the production is Todd Neal, WMU director of music theatre performance.

Evening performances begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 17-19, and Feb. 24-26. There is also a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday, Feb. 20.

A First Nighter's Reception, sponsored by Gull Lake Cafe, will be held following the Thursday, Feb. 17 performance. As a service to deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons, a sign language-interpreted performance will be held Thursday, Feb. 24.

"I look at this project as having forty-five collaborators," says director Todd Neal of his cast and production team, which includes faculty collaborators Lindsey Thomas, professor of dance, and David Little, associate professor of music.

Says Todd, "We are 45 people creating a show and telling a story together. The magic is that we've discovered it's possible."

Todd joined the WMU faculty this year from New York after serving as director of theatre at Rutgers University in Camden, N.J. His last directing endeavor with WMU's University Theatre was the tremendously successful fall 1999 Quilters.

Todd now brings to the stage the newest work from the creators of the renowned musicals Godspell and Pippin. In Children of Eden, all the love, pain and trials of generations of families are brought to life, from Adam and Eve and their banishment from the Garden of Eden to Cain and Abel and their tumultuous sibling rivalry and concluding with Noah and his family's triumphant voyage on the Ark.

The journey is beautifully and creatively illustrated by a unique design concept that incorporates children's story books and painted skies, as well as mask and movement work by guest artists Commedia Zuppa, a touring theatre company of experts in physical theatre and the distinct theatre style of Commedia 'dell Arte.

University Theatre welcomes James Rich as a special guest artist. Rich, a member of the Actors' Equity (the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States), makes a strong appearance in the lead role of father. He has been featured in four different national tours, including the First National Touring Company of Rent.

This production features seniors Craig Bonacorsi and Donnie Tuel as Adam/Noah and juniors Anjanette Hall and Kristin Wilson as Eve/Mama Noah in alternating performances. Also featured are junior Erica Baker as Yonah; senior Stephen Brotebeck as The Snake; junior Erik Sisco as Abel/Ham; and senior Craig Wilson as Cain/Japheth. A talented design team comprised of faculty and students finish out the production company: junior Monica Cuoco (production stage manager); senior Erich Keil (sound design); senior Carrie Beth Mossman (properties artist); senior Patricia Nichols (scenic design); Matthew Knewtson (lighting design); Gwendolyn Nagle (costume design); and Greg Roehrick (scenic design).

Ticket prices are $14 for adults; $12 for senior citizens, WMU faculty and staff, and non-WMU students; and $5 for WMU students. To purchase tickets call the Gilmore Theatre Ticket Office at 616 387-6222 weekdays from noon until 6 p.m.

Media contact: Shauna Thieman; 616 387-6222; shauna.thieman@wmich.edu

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