Destinations Magazine

Review: Children of Eden

By Antipodeanblog @antipodeanblog
Review: Children of Eden
Stephen Schwartz’s lost musical.
All theater geeks (especially those fond of that other showhe wrote; Wicked) have heard of Children of Eden, but few have seen it.After all, a musical about the first few chapters of Genesis doesn’t soundimmediately gripping.
This is a special one-night-only charity gala performance,and it’s brought together a killer cast of West End stars. The Prince of WalesTheatre is usually the home of Mamma Mia,  so the staging for thisperformance is pared back – a few large blocks on the stage and assortedlightbulbs dangling. This simple approach works a treat and allows the actors toreally own the stage.
Opening the show are Oliver Thornton (Adam/Felicia inPriscilla) and Louise Dearman (Glinda in Wicked) as Adam and Eve. Thornton’sperformance is good, but a little self-conscious. His voice, though excellent,is a little thin for the role. Dearman, on the other hand, proves herselfcapable far beyond the (already vocally demanding) role of cutesy Glinda. Sheeffortlessly navigates through complicated Schwartzian melodies, bringing acaramel smooth Streisand sound to the role without losing that essentialfeeling of Eve’s humanity. She’s flawless, and by far the standout of thenight.
The other conspicuously brilliant performance comes fromGareth Gates as Cain. I was sceptical when I read about his casting. Comingrunner-up to Will Young in the first series of Pop Idol doesn’t exactly qualifysomeone to perform with the cream of London theater. But I was wrong. Gareth isa theater singer first, pop singer second. He approaches the role in RaminKarimloo style: nimble, powerful, graceful, and impressive.

Review: Children of Eden

Gareth Gates as Cain.

I’m grateful when he kills his brother, because a woman Ican only assume is Abel’s mom is sitting next to me and won’t stop snappingpictures of his every move on her very bright mobile phone. She leaves at halftime, which I’m also grateful for because she isn’t exactly built like aballerina and has been spilling over onto my seat for most of the first act.
Act I is less remarkable than Act II. There are some decentmelodies and performers, but none so promising as Eve or Cain and their firstact ballads. Still, the chorus sound wonderful together – voices fusing farmore smoothly than you usually see when a group of soloists perform choralwork.
The best moments in the second act come from Laura Samuelsas servant girl Yonah, and Brenda Edwards (Killer Queen, We Will Rock You) asMama Noah. Though she stole the second act with her gospel number, Edwardslooked bored whenever she wasn’t singing. A shame.
After the performance, the director invites the writer ofthe show to the stage. I just about wet myself.
Unfortunately, it’s not Stephen Schwartz. It’s whatshisnamewho wrote the unremarkable book. But this disappointment is quickly forgottenwhen the reigning queen of London theatre, Kerry Ellis, takes the stage tofinish the evening with an original song that’s been written for her; thesomewhat unoriginally titled “Heal the World”. Her voice, of course, brings down the house.

Review: Children of Eden

Kerry Ellis.

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