Children of Eden Uplifts at CCM
Review by Liz Eichler of Children of Eden: CCM
Children of Eden, Stephen Schwartzâ€™s 1991 musical, is one of those shows that not only impacts an audience, but transforms a cast as well due to the power of its message and the importance of the whole ensemble in this piece. University of Cincinnatiâ€™s College-Conservatory of Music Studio Series production, playing only until April 1, will tell you why: the show is a moving testament to prayer as a conversation with the Father, and is amazingly well done by a cast with deep and exuberant talent.
This is not a preachy show, it is an honest story of two families that keep growing, and have joys, conflicts, missteps, and ultimately hope. First, we meet the Father, and children Adam and Eve. You know the story, but it is the telling that moves you. The second act is the story of Noah and his family, and their relationship with the Father. Again, you know the story, but it is in the telling that moves you.
The whole cast is rich in voice with strong movement and acting skills, played out in a theatrical backstage, attic, or jumbled â€œRoom of Requirementâ€ (Logan Greenwell, Scenic Design). Musical Director Stephen Goers tends their beautiful harmonies as he accompanies them on piano. Director and Choreographer Vince DeGeorge fills the space with creative movement and dance.
Phillip Johnson-Richardson (Father) has a powerful voice and captures the range of emotions we expect from Him, from sweetly paternal and protecting, to authoritarian, to deeply hurt or deeply joyousâ€”and always present and listening. Bryce Baxter (Adam) and Ciara Alyse Harris (Eve) show us their range as they go from innocents to old age, both with beautiful voices, and Baxter with great comedic timing. Gabe Wrobel (Noah) has a rich full voice as he leads his family through troubled waters, and Stavros Koumbaros (Japheth) and Emily Royer (Yonah) beautifully portray the passion and conflicting feelings of their forbidden love.
Standout songs include: â€œNamingâ€ exuberantly features the full cast, â€œIn Pursuit of Excellenceâ€ is an amazing piece of movement as the Snake enters the Garden, and â€œRing the Stonesâ€ has striking visuals and lighting (Justin Dudzik, Lighting Design). Second Act opener â€œGenerationsâ€ features killer vocals of Jenny Mollet. Other vocal highlights in the second act are â€œStranger to the Rainâ€ and â€œWhat Time We Haveâ€ by Royer and Koumbaros.
Children of Eden rings with joy and hope, the final songs are a musical rainbow raised to the heavens, with many moving lyrics including â€œOur hearts can choose to stop the hatingâ€ and â€œNo journey is so far that we cannot stop and change directions.â€ There may still be a few tickets left for this Studio Series production, with the last two performances April 1. Admission is free. Reservations are required. Please visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.