CHIL,DR,EN OF EDEN
Music & lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by John Caird
Directed by Ian Wilson and Margaret Jones Musical Director: Philip Jones
Ian Wilson discusses the production for Llandudno Youth Music Theatre
woman, equall y effectively.
Noah is a wonderful part actor and he and his famill able to work together as a
L1andudno Youth Music Theatre was formed in 1978 as a feeder group for one of th e adult societies in L1andudno, but grew into a youth group in its own right. Our first musi cil l /\/111(' uf Creell Cn/,ll's was performed in 1979 <I t till' local Town Hall in Llandudno on a sIllill1 s tage with vi rtu"llv no so und <lnd lighting and a sIllal1 set. Since 1979 th e group hilS pNforllled a Illusical eve ry year in vu riou s venues in the area.
Rehea rsals s tarted in Mil n: learning the songs, all tota Auditions were held beginning of Ma y. With a s trong cast w e flooring. Rehearsals too k p Thursdavs for ever von" Sunday ~ fternoons for Scrir and choreography righ t u the show opened at the b~ of September.
[n September of 1988 Childrm of Eden was the musical chos~'n. It W,l5 pe rform~'d at the North Wales Theatre, L1ilndudntl o n one of tl1l2 bigges t stilges in the UK.
The show was split bet\\ directors. Act I WilS di r myself, Ian Wilson and Margaret Jones. We h.ld togeth er in the past.
BACKGRO PL Childrell of Edell is the story of th e first nine chapters of th e Old TestclIllent, from tilE' Creation to oilh'5 Ark landing on Mount Ararat, with one big musical number, "Gene ration s", covering the nine hundred years in between.
Act 1 is longer and need : II as no t to drag. It cover" ground . Scenes like 111(0' 111c Naming of the Arum Snilke and th e App l Wilderness, Cain and Abe l .... Ring of Stones, which inc!
death of Abel, are all ve n ' d but keep the pace going ;" I. to a moving cli max iI t the Act!.
This version is much shorter than the original West End production,
staged in ')991 , which I think makes it a ti g hter, stronger piece and gives it dramatic impact.
Act Il, although shorter, impa ct. The opening "Genera tions" requirc.s I energy as it bridges the gel' gap between Act I and A, introduces Noah to his fa m
retu rn of the animals as th"
the Ark is one of the
hig hl ig hts of Act II. Crea
d espem tion of w eeks with(
of lillld tests the actors i family. As la nd is fOLln d wife sings "Ain' t it rousing gospe l number. important for the actor r Noah to bring the audienc to earth reudy for the fi n. which takes LIS right ba ck begirming.
There is a cast of 18 lllujor characters, SOIlle of which Illay be doubled, plus s tory tellers who make up the choru s. Everyone
remained on stnge throughout th e
piece only le,wing the s tage to
either chan ge costullle or s uggest it
change of sce ne. The action is
continuous throughout. Of th e Illain charac t'e rs, Father (God) needs to have i1 presence above everyone else whibt ilt the sa me time still be able to blend back into the storytellers at the end of the show. Adam and Eve need to play the ir first sce nes with innocence and graduilily age through Act l. This was achieved by body bnguilge and slower movements rilther than applying make-up . Our yo ung actors were totally believilble.
There are simililritil's thilt \. Act I and Act II that 11l~ worked on so tha t the a sees the connec tion . 11tl scene being jLlst one to ml'ni
Cain needs a good range in his singin g voice, as his main song is very powerful and quite high. The s nake is usuall y played by <l
man but our snake was played by a
What . Iso co mes across ir show is how parents co bringing LIp their children with Adam and Eve and th Cain and Abel. Also in Acl
oa h and his son Japhet h.
different from today.
SEJi ction is continuous in the w ith no set scenes laid down, 'an le t yom imagination run We did break up the script the action di ctated th e ters moved from one pl<Jce to ,r this il lso helps in planning -d is,
build a full set for each creating all th e locations lil bo rilte scene ry, but we it would be better to have a co mposite set and use ,, \ lighting to create a a tmosp here for ea ch Our Stage Man ager a set with scaffolding, '1'.. rent ievrls, and gave us ~ le\'els for working on,
unlike the traditiona'! "orchestra in the pit musicills" when mos t of the mus icians n ever see the cast, o or the cast the musicians. Having the orchestra on stage creates its own uniqu e problems especially for the sOLlnd engineers, N ot ooly does the audience ha ve to have the correct mix and balance, but also th e orches tra ilnd MD have to be able to hear the cast, and vice versa. This was achieved with additional sound d es k ilnd "fold bi1ck" m on itors for the cas t and the orchestra strilteg ica lly placed on stage at several loca tions . The music of Childrf/! of EdcII is a joy to learn, play and perform. What more could you as k of any musical?
COST ' M MUSIC ..;ic from the orig inaJ n o f Childrcll of Edell has ra-"licnlly changE'd and <"\'ery ,;ong that was in th e I\' havin g been altered; IIUny ha\'e been completely <('me delet(~d and new
,cd rock opem, therefore od s tagin g hav e to gel in ,'"It! ~ torv to be told and b\' th ~ audience. This â€˘ td.~ k a t bes t, but when ing w ith a new work .. ','/I Edt'li you have Juli nes to follow.
- ld [",cen tly invested in 1\ ilh
animals <uP a big challenge. ur ,1l1 im ~ls were dressed in an absract Will' with ma terial of the ilnimal th e)' d ep icted ~dd ing tails and ears as appropria te. TIl e
'h'<l invilluable when - tht' RehearScore disc a cos t) by Joseph bles th~ music to be t.l.r:..; als a t any speed, k,,:, broken down for .,w~ t importantl y the j o fi for the d ifferen t ; tor the cas t to lea rn . ~ " ng!>
w ere .I eilrnt the ed "live", first with the n with th thes izer. It was ,\ ' t:' would hilve an , tage for the ~h i5 WilS part of the )W.
able to see the - ,;,tilge (i1lbeit in the -<'I). and gave the a ff'ding of "on~", 35
Costumes can be very fj ",xible, We brought in i1 cos tum e designer who incorporat ed th e bjblical theme on a modern scnle, e,g. Ca in was dressed in combat trousers and teeÂ shirt whil s t Noah Wi1S more traditional. Adam ,md Eve's costumes were chosen by working closely with th e costume designer and very simpl e cos tum es d epic ting innocence were ch osen. As th e actors aged , th eir costum es changed by addin g another piece of clothing .
We h.ired nine radio microphones four h,1l1d -he ld radio pl us microphones plus four float mi cs for the front of the stage. Thi s gave us best coverage in a large thea tre and meant there was no quick changes of microphones, Our technician hired in moving lights to provid e li ght (!xac tly where we wanted it but also to inject a certain amount of spectilcle into the show. Ha ze machines were also hired together with ordinary lanterns to augment the theatre's supply. Scroller;; were also used . he ex tra equipment W ilo hired from Stage Elechics in Birmingham, Th(~ li ghting is an integrill pMt of the show, especia lly the final sequ ence of the rainbow.
CONCLPSION Childrell of Edm w as a gr,,'at artistic su ccess for the gro up , utili s ing everyone's talents, although not a financial success. It is very difficult persuading audi ences to try something new. We performed 00 a large s tage in a 1400 seill theatre and used a lot of high tech Lighting to create the effects we wanted. However the show ca n work just as well in a sma ll venue, studio theat.re or church hall, It is the appro<\Ch to and enthusiasm for the piece that makes the difference,
was a very happy atmosphere both on and backstage throu ghout rehearsals and the week of th e show. Our audiences loved it. This was ev id ent from the s ta ndin g ova tions receiv ed after eve ry performance - what more can [ say!!
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Ian Wilson discusses his production of Children Of Eden by Stephen Schwartz and John Caird for Llandudno Youth Music Theatre