Magnormos presents the final production in their triptych, A Celebration of Stephen Schwartz, with Children of Eden. Children of Eden, based on the Biblical book of Genesis, opened on the West End in 1991 but closed early. A major production was presented at the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey, and a cast recording made, but the show has never appeared on either Broadway or Off-Broadway. Monday 23rd September will be the Australian professional premiere of Children Of Eden.
It's a fitting end to the triptych, as Children of Eden is reported to be composer Stephen Schwartz's personal favourite. Catching up with David Harris, this fact is something he is well aware of. It seems to be something everyone has mentioned to Harris – as if having Schwartz present in the audience for the one-off performance isn't enough pressure! But as one of our country's most acclaimed and well loved leading men, this also presents an exciting opportunity for Harris as he prepares for the roles of Adam and Noah. Harris is incredibly excited to be working with this talented cast which includes Marty Rhone as Father, Laura Fitzpatrick as Eve/Mama Noah, Josh Piterman as Cain and Akina Edmonds as Yonah. While Harris has gained a high profile with roles such as Chris in Miss Saigon, Fiyero in Wicked and Emmett in Legally Blonde, the triptych has allowed some emerging performers to have their moment in the spotlight. It is clear from the enthusiasm and passion in Harris' voice that he is very supportive of giving new performers opportunities within the industry.
Despite the advertising suggesting a concert version of the show, this is far more than a mere concert. This took Harris by surprise, who expected the performance would be on-book. He discovered that not only would it be off-book, but also include full choreography and direction. Much more than a concert! Ever so humble, Harris commented he was the last to know his lines but by the end of Wednesday's rehearsal the cast were ready for a full run through of the show. Not a bad effort in a matter of days, but it does mean the rehearsal period is very intense and hectic. Harris has experienced short rehearsal schedules with The Production Company, but this is even tighter. Harris said in a longer season you would spend more time refining and improving the performance, so there is considerable pressure to achieve a very high standard within a week.
Harris was in the audience for last Monday's performance of Pippin, rated 5 stars by our own Simon Parris. Like many others in the audience Harris had not seen the show before and went in with no preconceived ideas of what it was about. He was impressed by the incredibly high standard of Pippin and is aware of the expectation, following the success of both Godspell and Pippin, for Children of Eden to be of an equally high standard.
Similarly, Harris has never seen Children of Eden and is looking forward to the opportunity to work with Schwartz (in what will be the second time.) Harris does not have a religious background so has no preconceived ideas of these characters and is taking them for what they are, but is keen to discuss the roles with Schwartz and understand his intent and interpretation of the characters of Adam and Noah.
Harris has been very impressed hearing the vocals of this cast, who he says have done an incredible job already. It's a testament to the talent we have in this country and the hard work and commitment demonstrated by Australian performers. Every day there have been tears shed as the cast have explored the depth of emotions conveyed in this show. Harris describes the music as beautiful and is excited about performing in this rarely staged musical.
Harris is mindful this is an Australian professional premiere and that Schwartz will be in the audience. He is also well aware of the standard set, and now expected, from the previous two shows. If Godspell and Pippin are anything to go by, this final production will be amazing. This is a unique opportunity to see this rarely performed show in it's one and only performance. Don't miss out!
Tickets are available at http://www.melbournerecital.com.au/events/2013/childrenofeden/