‘Children of Eden’ puts twist on Biblical stories with family-tension theme

"Children of Eden” runs November 10-19 at The Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. Photo Courtesy Greg Brown
"Children of Eden” runs November 10-19 at The Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. Photo Courtesy Greg Brown
“Children of Eden” runs November 10-19 at The Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. Photo Courtesy Greg Brown

Nothing can drive you crazy like family. Whether it’s parents who always think they know best or siblings who are constantly getting on your nerves, it seems that everyone has experienced tension at home. These familial divisions aren’t a new phenomenon, they’ve been a part of human life for countless generations. “Children of Eden,” opening this week at the Ring Theatre, takes these fights all the way back to Biblical times, set to incredible music.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by John Caird, “Children of Eden” has undergone many revisions since its original production in 1991. Although the show has never had a Broadway production, it has become a popular choice for regional theatres all across the country. The show reinterprets the book of Genesis, including the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah’s Ark, as the struggle of parents and children to understand one another.

Rehearsals in October here at UM got off to a rough start, as the cast lost almost a full week to Hurricane Matthew. Still, the actors are optimistic about the final product.

“The rehearsal process has been a bit crazy,” said sophomore musical theatre major Adrian Corbo, who plays Adam. “But we’ve all been working hard and the show just keeps getting better and better.”

For several cast members, this is their first show at the Ring. In addition to guidance from director Greg Brown, they’ve found an opportunity to learn from their more-experienced peers.

“This is my first show since high school and I’ve missed doing what I love most,” said sophomore musical theatre major Kevin Brown, who portrays Cain. “My favorite part of it all is watching the seniors work. All of them are scary good and it is truly inspirational.”

“Children of Eden” is a demanding show with more than 40 musical numbers. The ensemble cast doesn’t have much time for a break, as when they aren’t playing a named character, they all participate as members of a chorus of storytellers. For senior musical theatre major Jayne Ng, the show’s Eve, the challenge has been a welcome test of her training at UM.

“This show is a big sing for the entire cast. To act with full energy, without losing any of the vocal technique we have been equipped with is not an easy task,” Ng said. “As artists we are constantly being tested on knowing exactly what we need to be singing, doing, wearing and preparing at all times.”

The designers and tech crew have pulled out all the stops for “Children of Eden,” with stage magic befitting such an epic story.

“No spoilers, but the tricks the Ring Theatre has up its sleeve will blow audiences away,” Corbo said.

Some potential audience members might be wary of the religious subject matter, but “Children of Eden” is much more than just a Sunday school lesson.

“This story is one that relatable to everyone,” Ng said. “It’s about love, loss, family, acceptance, growing up, curiosity, temptation – subject matters we all deal with at one point or another in our lives.”

If You Go:

“Children of Eden”

Where: The Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, 1312 Miller Drive, Coral Gables South Miami

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10-19

Cost: $25 regular admission, $10 student tickets and free with Cane Card on Totally Tuesday

For more information, call 305-284-3355 or visit www.as.miami.edu/ringtheatre/.