Children of Eden

Children of Eden is a 1991 musical by Stephen Schwartz, of Wicked fame, about the Biblical story of creation. Now I wasn’t sure about going to see this show. I’ve had mixed experiences with shows based on the Bible: I loved Jesus Christ Superstar, but hated Godspell (also by Schwartz), but ultimately I did enjoy the show.

The venue was the new Union Theatre, which has all the small-scale charm of the original but better toilets, which I’m happy with. The new space is as intimate as the old one, which helps us to feel involved in the story.

In the first half we learn about Adam and Eve, their expulsion from heaven and their children Cain and Abel, and in the second half we move on to learn about more of their Biblical descendants, right up to Noah’s Ark. I was worried that it would be too, well, religious, but Schwartz’s skill, and that of book writer John Caird, is to make the tale like a family saga, with God as the parent disappointed in his children and the younger generation determined not to repeat their parents’ mistakes.

The cast are good, particularly Natasha O’Brien as Eve, who is outstanding. The set was extremely minimalist but this worked well in the context of the show. I really loved the use of puppets to portray the animals entering the Ark, even if it was too reminiscent of The Lion King.

The most important part of any musical for me is the music, and while I thought the music here certainly suited the show, I didn’t find any of the songs particularly memorable other than the snake’s song, which was great fun, and Eve’s big number The Spark of Creation, which contains hints of the memorable melodies Schwartz would develop in Wicked.

I can’t say that I loved this show, but I did find it entertaining. It’s definitely worth popping along to the new Union Theatre to check it out.

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