Cedar Street Theatre’s production of “Children of Eden” is packed full of songs with a variety of music that ranges from jazz to pop/rock to African and Caribbean rhythms and gospel, interspersed with humor and heart.
Audiences should be prepared to sit back and enjoy the performances. At approximately 2½ hours, “Children of Eden” is a long show. The two-act musical by Stephen Schwartz and John Caird is based on the “Book of Genesis.”
The first act begins with the story of creation as the God figure, Father (L. Michael Wells), creates the universe, bringing forth the morning, evening and other wonders like whales and sharks in “Let There Be.” Finished but not quite done, he adds some children, Adam (Ceron Jones) and Eve (Kait Adams). They settle in the Garden of Eden as Father give them the task of naming his animal creations in the delightful, “The Naming.”
Everything is copacetic until the adventurous Eve spies the tree of knowledge in the distance and asks Father about it. As soon as he warns her not to stray, it’s clear her fate is sealed. Eve’s curiosity to explore her world is revealed in “The Spark of Creation.” That leads to the wonderful “In Pursuit of Excellence” where the snake — five actors clad in black — tempt Eve with a taste of the forbidden fruit.
The show’s humor comes through when Eve presents Adam with a dinner of turnover, strudel and a special cider of which she coyly avoids telling him the ingredients. Spoiler alert: Adam, not wanting to leave Eve, drinks it, despite Father offering to make him a new wife.
After Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, they start a family and have sons Cain (Joshua Amis) and Abel (Zachary Sullivan). Cain is a rebel who, like his mother, wants to explore the world. Adam, like his Father before him, discourages his son.
The second act features the story of Noah (Jones) and the ark and more family drama. Noah bans the servant girl Yonah (Cierra Gooden) from the ark because she is a descendant of the race of Cain. But she is the woman Noah’s youngest son Japheth (Anis) wants to marry. Japheth sneaks Yonah (Cierra Gooden) on the ark, anyway. The couple’s love is unveiled in the lovely, “In Whatever Time We Have.”
The gospel-tinged “Ain’t It Good” performed by Mama (Adams) and the full company is another highlight of the show.
“Children of Eden” benefits from a strong cast led by two remarkable lead actors.
Adams, performing in her first lead role, is a treat. She is wonderful in the dual role of Eve and Noah’s wife. She simply lights up the stage as Eve and her clear, strong voice is a highlight.
Jones, who won a Shining Star award last year as lead actor for “Shrek: The Musical,” dominates as Adam and Noah. His powerful voice brings depth to the songs he performs.
Other standouts include Amis in the dual roles of wayward Cain and the love-struck Japheth, Zachary Sullivan as Abel and Ham, and Ryan Mendoza as Seth and Shem. Gooden is also noteworthy as Yonah.
Wells doesn’t get a lot to do as Father — that is, beyond creating the universe and all — but he brings warmth and humor to his role.
Director Anthony Langford collaborated with set designer Kim Tarlton to create a simple set that serves its purpose and give the attention where it belongs — to the actors. The tree of knowledge is made in a creative way. Lighting designer Randal Brumbaugh also has some nice lighting effects in the show.
At 24 songs long, the first act feels a bit too long. That is nothing against the actors.
“Children of Eden” will conclude its two-weekend run at 8 p.m., Feb. 15 and 16; and 2 p.m., Feb. 17 at the Nellie and Lou Bozigian Family Theatre.
To share your opinion on this article or any other article, write a letter to the editor and email it to email@example.com or mail it to Letters to Editor, P.O. Box 4050, Palmdale CA 93590-4050.