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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 4:52 pm | Partly Cloudy 61º


Showstoppers Stages ‘Children of Eden’ Musical

Performances begin Wednesday at La Colina Junior High

In 1993, Radu and Marian Azdril began producing shows for and by children. The after-school and summer sessions provided opportunities for children to learn and grow through musical theater. In 1999 Showstoppers Theatre Productions decided to mount a production of Into The Woods, and Youth Ensemble Productions was born.

Since then, exciting shows such as Big River, Crazy for You, Once On This Island, Hot Mikado and Les Miserables have been performed each summer by Santa Barbara youths.

The 2010 show is Children of Eden. Powered by the combined force of Stephen Schwartz of Wicked and Godspell and John Caird of Les Miserables, Children of Eden is an emotionally charged musical that focuses on the clashes between generations, the power of one’s own free will and the belief in second chances.

In Children of Eden, God (referred to both reverently and affectionately as “Father”) his children, Adam and Eve, and their decedents all deal with their respective children’s curious and independent natures. 

In the beginning, Father gives to his children a garden called “Eden,” supposedly a perfect haven for his young offspring. However, in the familiar turn of events, the thirst for knowledge and self-determination catapults Adam and Eve out of their innocent childhood and into the wasteland beyond.

As the story progresses, the music also grows in complexity and diversity. The angelic and relatively simple harmonies of Eden counter a jazzy ensemble during Eve’s temptation by the Snake. After the expulsion from the garden, tribal tones and pop music coincide and add rich layers of interest that accentuate the struggles and triumphs faced by both man and God. As the Great Flood subsides at the end of the second act, Noah and his family celebrate their salvation in a rousing gospel number. They disembark and start anew, knowing that the fate of man and men is in their hands.

Children of Eden will leave the audience with a bittersweet but empowering message that every guardian must some day let go and allow the next generation to decide its own future.

Children of Eden will be performed at 7 p.m. July 21-24 at La Colina Junior High School.

This production would not be possible without the guidance of director Radu Azdril and costuming of Marian Azdril. Thanks also to the invaluable instruction provided by music director Eleni Pantages and acting coach Gary Fields, both Showstoppers alumni.

“I think the work of which I am most proud is Children of Eden,” Schwartz said. “There are more of the themes that I return to over and over — personal responsibility, rebellion, intellectual independence, as well as overcoming family dysfunctions — in this work than in any of my other shows. ... It has become a viable and often performed piece that I know will live on after I’m gone.”

— Chrysanthe Pantages represents Showstoppers Theatre Productions.

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