posted June 7, 2011

Schwartz’s Musical “Children of Eden” Opens HSRT’s 40th Season

The Hope Summer Repertory Theatre kicks off its 40th season with Children of Eden by Stephen Schwartz, a heartfelt musical with exciting and innovative choreography, opening June 17th at 8 p.m. at Hope College’s DeWitt Theatre.

Returning this season as an Equity Guest Artist is Noah Putterman, playing Adam and Noah who shares his take on the plot of the story: Children of Eden takes two very well known biblical stories and retells them in a way that focuses on the very personal struggles that exist between parents and children. In the first act, Adam and Eve clash with their Father (God) who desperately wants them to remain his innocent children despite their human desire to better themselves through knowledge and experience. After they eat from the Tree of Knowledge and are expelled from the paradise of Eden into the wasteland, Adam and Eve are forced to experience the harsh realities of life and learn to survive on their own.

In the second act of the show, the struggle between parents and children continues through the retelling of the story of Noah and the flood. As Noah struggles to understand God's wish to get rid of so many humans, his son Japheth disobeys his father's wishes by sneaking his chosen bride, the family's servant girl and a member of the race of Cain, onto the ark. Noah is then forced to choose whether or not he is willing to sacrifice his son in order to uphold God's wishes to wipe out the race of Cain. The theme presents a larger question of how we choose to live our lives, how we treat one another, and even how we treat our Earth.

Putterman is returning for his second season with HSRT. Last summer he appeared in Into the Woods (the Baker), A Year with Frog and Toad (Frog), and An Italian Straw Hat. Since then, he appeared as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (The North Carolina Theatre) and Scrooge’s nephew Fred in A Christmas Carol (Guthrie Theater). Noah is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in Psychology and a BFA in Acting from the Guthrie Theater. He is a United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and an alumnus of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Young Arts program (youngarts.org).

Playing opposite of Putterman as Eve/Mama Noah, is Hayley Galbraith, also returning for her second summer with HSRT. Since graduating from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, CA, she has worked with numerous regional theatre companies across the country. Last summer Hayley was seen as the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, the Duchess of Champigny in An Italian Straw Hat and as Reba in The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Other credits include: Dotty Otley in Noises Off!, Beline in The Imaginary Invalid, Adriana in A Comedy of Errors, Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof, Izzy in Rabbit Hole and Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!

When asked how she has connected to her characters in Children of Eden during the rehearsal process, Hayley said, “Regardless of your religious beliefs or spiritual practices, anyone can relate to this story. We all struggle with our relationships with loved ones, and we all have internal needs to seek and follow our dream or passion. We are all humans, flawed and blessed in our own ways. In that sense, finding my way into Eve's character was very natural, those themes are so universal. Eve represents the every woman: brilliant, curious, strong and, at times, daring but still humbled and as confused as anyone. She is a mother and wife. But above all else, she is a daughter. She, like you or I, is someone's child. And she is feeling her way through life, trying to beat a path and survive her journey.”

Cain/Japeth is played by John Garder, returning as a member of the acting company. John will be a senior acting major at Ithaca College in the fall. His past HSRT credits include Snail in A Year With Frog and Toad, Tardiveaux in An Italian Straw Hat, Steward in Into the Woods, and Huckle Cat in Busytown the Musical. His other credits include Otis Gardiner/Philip Gaddarn in Coram Boy, Jewell Estes in Floyd Collins, Jon in Tick Tick Boom at Ithaca College, and Jeffrey in Godspell at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

We have two young actors joining Children of Eden to play a young Cain and Abel. Christian Krimendahl, a fourth grade student from Black River Elemenatary, will be playing Young Abel. He was most recently seen in his school's production of Rikki Tikki Tembo, where he played Rikki's Brother. Grant Hofland, a fourth grader at Jefferson School, will be playing Young Cain. He was most recently seen in the Imagine Christmas productions at Central Wesleyan Church, where he played a Shepherd in 2009 and a Kid in 2010.

Directing the production is HSRT favorite, David Colacci, who is returning for his twenty-sixth season with HSRT and twentieth as Artistic Director. Recent productions David has directed include Into the Woods, Room Service, Kiss Me, Kate, Godspell, Seussical, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Oliver, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Shakespeare in Hollywood. Among the roles he has played are Charlie in The Foreigner, Morgan in The Drawer Boy, Mark in Art, Queeg in The Canine Mutiny Court Martial, Nicely in Guys and Dolls, Lenny in Rumors, Frank in Educating Rita, Billy in Billy Bishop Goes to War, and Oscar in The Odd Couple. He has also won numerous awards as a narrator of audio books, including an Audie nomination this year for Philip Pan's Out of Mao's Shadow.

Performances of Children of Eden continue throughout the summer on June 18, 23, 30, July 12, 16, 25, 30, August 5, and 12.

Tickets are now on sale through the DeWitt and DeVos Fieldhouse ticket offices. Prices range from $10-$26 for musicals and $8-$19 for plays. Season tickets, ranging from $48-$85, are also available.

The ticket office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Beginning June 14 the ticket office is open on Saturdays at noon. On performance dates, the DeWitt Ticket Office will be open through intermission. The ticket office is located in DeWitt Cultural Center at 12th Street and Columbia Avenue. For tickets call the ticket office at 616-395-7890. For more information visit the HSRT website at www.hope.edu/hsrt.

The DeWitt Theatre is located at 141 East 12th street. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in Holland’s downtown on 8th street.

HSRT is now on facebook! Keep up to date with what’s happening this season by searching Hope Summer Repertory Theatre on www.facebook.com.