Monday , June 16, 2014 - 4:23 PM
Don’t come to “Children of Eden” expecting to see a re-enactment of Bible stories.
Instead, biblical characters such as Adam, Eve and Noah are used to tell the story of family relationships using a plot that is loosely based on the scriptural account.
“It is using these characters to tell a modern story of family,” director Alane Schultz said. “The relationships are timeless. It has funny moments. I like to call it a sentimental comedy. It is very deep and there are hard moments to watch, such as Abel getting killed by his brother. I am often laughing through my tears, which is such a wonderful emotion.”
“Children of Eden” is a favorite to Schultz, who put it on several years ago at Bonneville High School, where she teaches drama. Many of her former students make up the two large CenterPoint Legacy casts that perform alternate nights of the week.
Nate Waite, Weber State University student studying musical theater, was just 11 when the Bonneville High production was staged, and he was recruited to play young Cain.
“That role is one of the things that made me want to act,” Waite said. “I know all of the music still. The story is very moving.”
Now Waite is cast (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) as the adult Cain and as Noah’s son, Japeth, two of the show’s most rebellious characters.
“Cain is not a bad person, but he makes a bad decision,” Waite said. “He wants to know more about the world and find out if there are other people. Adam is not letting him. It escalates into a family feud. In a moment of blind rage, he goes after Adam and ends up killing Abel. It is pretty tragic, because he is out-of-his-mind angry, and has to suffer the consequences for it.”
Act one begins with a character referred to simply as “Father,” who creates the world and Adam and Eve during a song called “Let There Be.” Cameron Kapetanov, of Ogden, fills the role in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast. He is another former student of Schultz’s.
“‘Children of Eden’ is such a rare opportunity for the community to see,” Kapetanov said. “Stephen Schwartz even says it is one of his best scores, and we know he also wrote the score for ‘Wicked.’ Being Father is such an awesome opportunity because of the big name Schwartz is.”
The character is never referenced as “God,” and is portrayed more as a father figure than a distant, all-powerful being, Kapetanov said.
He hopes people will have an open mind about coming to see it.
“Utah has such a heavy religious population,” Kapetanov said. “I am hoping they will be able to see the title and not judge it as not being from their beliefs. It has nothing to do with the doctrine of whatever religion you are. It is really the story of families, second chances, forgiveness and understanding that whatever path you want, you can go down. You can choose for yourself.”
Act two tells a story of another family, with Noah at the head. There is a spectacular scene, “The Return of the Animals” with a seemingly never-ending stream of creatures being loaded onto the ark.
In Waite’s role as Japeth, he falls in love with a servant named Yonah. Father has told Noah to build an ark so that he can wipe out the bloodline of Cain with a flood. Since Yonah is a descendent of Cain, Noah forbids the relationship telling Japeth, “We don’t have a choice.” Japeth responds to Noah, “We always have a choice.”
“The whole message of the show is that we have the freedom to choose and, of all the gifts we have received, that one is the most precious and the most terrible,” Waite said.
Adam and Noah are played Monday, Wednesday and Friday by Nate Mikami, of South Ogden.
“This is an album and a show I have been listening to for years,” he said. He enjoyed participating in community and high school theater before college, and in 2006 landed the lead role of the Beast in “Beauty &the Beast” at the Hale Centre Theatre.
After that, he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and focused on his studies, graduating from WSU in 2012 with a political science degree. It has been 8 years since he has been on stage.
“I’ve never stopped loving theater and this was a good enough opportunity for me to jump back in,” Mikami said. “A lot of us in the cast went to Bonneville. It is kind of like a nice, big reunion.”
The roles Mikami plays represent two types of fathers. Their journeys parallel the journey of the character Father.
“They are trying to do the right thing for their families,” the actor said. “Adam wants to protect his children and he comes off as gruff and mean, but it is out of love. Noah realizes that showing love for his children no matter what they do is the right way to parent. Love and forgiveness are the two overarching themes of the show.”
There are also powerful female roles in the show. Eve and Mama Noah are played (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) by Lindsea Garside, of Layton. She graduated in 2013 from Weber State’s musical theater program.
“Alane has quite the following,” Garside said. “We all love her, so we all showed up because we wanted to work with her. It is an amazing musical that is not done very often, so whenever it is done, you have to jump on that opportunity. Especially if it is done by an amazing director like Alane.”
Garside sees a contrast in the two characters she plays.
“Eve is young and excited, and has enthusiasm about life in the beginning. She has a curiosity about everything and it gets her into trouble. Mama Noah is wiser. She is kind of quiet, but when she speaks up it is about important things.”
Both women are able to get their point across to their men, but in different ways.
“These characters are not apologetic for who they are,” Garside said. “They are strong women who want things and go after what they desire. Eve leads Adam through the choices she makes. Mama Noah leads Noah by helping him discover that he is the one who has to make the choices.”
Kapetanov hopes audiences will come and see what the show is all about.
“If you are willing to open your mind and your heart, you are going to get an amazing story using these characters to tell it,” he said. “Don’t pass this opportunity by.”
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