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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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New play to focus on growing up

Growing up, accepting responsibility and learning how to take care of others are lessons cultivated throughout life.

Few times is this more starkly apparent than on Sibs N Kids weekend, when college students host their younger brothers and sisters — perhaps realizing how mature they themselves have become.

It is ironic, then, that this is the opening weekend for the theatre and film department’s “Children of Eden,” a musical filled with themes of growing up and families’ love for one another.

Dr. Michael Ellison, the play’s director, said the timing is perfect but stresses that its message is applicable to all ages.

“I’m always attracted to shows with a lot of depth and dimension, and this show has that in spades,” Ellison said.

“Children of Eden” is a modern retelling of the first nine chapters of the book of Genesis.

Four fictional “tribes of man” come together to pass on their stories of creation, setting up the play’s two acts.

In the first act is a musical retelling of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel and their stories.

The second act features Noah and his family as the world is flooded.

“The notion of these tribes,” Ellison said, “is that all cultures have these stories of creation.”

“It’s dealing with universal themes and that’s what we really wanted to capture with this production,” he said.

Ellison praised working with choreographer Tony Horne. Both of them have directed and choreographed before, with over 40 years of combined experience.

“I like the way [Horn’s] work meshes with mine … we’re great at bouncing ideas off each other,” Ellison said.

Good brainstorming has been crucial to pulling “Children of Eden” off, due to a complex musical score.

“It’s challenging music,” said Ellison, but in the same breath added, “I’ve loved working with the cast, the cast has been working very hard.”

Standing out among that hard-working cast is Emily Wright, a senior who plays the lead role of both Eve and Mama Noah.

“It’s been a really big challenge,” Wright said. “It’s a wide range of ages that I play as and also an ecclectic variety of music I get to sing.”

Despite the difficulty, Wright said “Children of Eden” is the best she’s performed in.

“We’ve done something very unique with it,” she said. “We’re doing a really great job bringing to life imagination and the beauty of performing, and I hope the audience walks away with a new perspective on life.”

This spring, Wright will be the first to graduate from the University with a bachelor’s in musical theatre — a new major created just four years ago.

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “I’ve kinda been a test pilot [for the program], which is kinda cool.”

Wright did not decide to focus on musical theater on a whim.

“It’s kinda been a thread I’ve followed all my life,” she said. “I remember my mom singing lullabies to me as a child.”

Laughing, Wright recalled performing in the Wizard of Oz twice —— once in fifth grade and again as a senior in high school.

“There’s something about a musical where the music just touches my soul,” she said.

Wright was one of the first to audition to be a musical theatre major and, after playing in 10 shows, she will perform in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre for the last time.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself as an individual and a performer,” she said of working on “Children of Eden.”

“It’s about me graduating from college and moving on with my life and both of these characters [Eve and Mama Noah] do that as well.”

“Children of Eden” will run at the Eva Marie Saint Theatre tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Additional show times are April 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. and April 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults, students and senior citizens, and $5 for children under 12.

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