TYA puts on Children of Eden as its Summer Musical

Sydney Sirkin ‘17
EE Staff Writer

This summer, Trumbull Youth Association (TYA), performed Children of Eden, a musical composed by Stephen Schwartz. The cast had about 70 teens in it ranging from ages 13-21, as well as a children’s ensemble, consisting of about 11 kids under the age of 12. The TYA cast members were working from the beginning of June until the first two weeks of August.

The show was a nearly two and a half hour epic, telling the story of the book of Genesis: specifically, the rise and fall of man, the tale of Cain and Abel, and the story of Noah’s Arc. Despite its biblical references, these themes take a backseat to the story of love, acceptance, and family.

The show has a strong message of family and forgiveness that ties over in both acts. With an amazing score and heartbreaking scenes in between, this show was the perfect match for TYA this year.

Director Brett Boles had a very interesting and symbolic take on casting the main roles. Actors were casted in double roles, meaning they switched parts after the first act of the musical. For example, actors Matt Johnson and Kaylin Weller had to transition from the first human beings on Earth as Adam and Eve, to Noah and his wife in act two preparing for the flood. The same could be said for several other actors and actresses. To brace themselves for such a daunting task, both Kaylin and Matt had to work vigorously on connecting with their characters for weeks on end. Hours upon hours were put into developing a different personality for each role and working on connecting with the inner emotions of that role.

And this year, TYA performers were given a special treat. Famous Broadway composer, Steven Schwartz, and original cast member, Kelli Rabke, came to visit the cast members for a question and answer panel, and a surprise performance.

Does that name sound familiar? Mr. Schwartz is known for composing the music of several Disney animated pictures, the blockbuster musicals Wicked and Pippin. To have him come and visit was a huge honor. After an hour long panel full of heart to hearts, questions, and laughs, the cast walked away with a new appreciation for the show. In turn, this led to a new zest in their energy.

“The show isn’t well known, but it should be. I feel like this was one of the first shows I’ve done where everything clicked,” Nathan Clift says.
Despite the cast and crew’s enthusiasm about the show, Children of Eden didn’t bring in the audiences it had hoped. In previous years, TYA has brought in nearly a full house with every performance, but this year ticket sales were struggling. The production staff worked desperately to put up more ads and posters up all around town to try and get the word out. Unfortunately, the most the theatre ever got was a little more than half full each night.

Despite the setback, the members of TYA put on a fantastic show. They believed in the messages and beautiful themes of love they portrayed in the show, putting their all into every performance. Members of TYA are still hopeful that next year will be even better. Let’s hope they continue to break a leg in everything they do!

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