Curtain Up Pagosa’s ‘Children of Eden’ to open Friday

Photo courtesy Dale Johnson
Taylor Jones as Yonah and Gus Palma as Japeth in Curtains Up Pagosa’s stirring production of Stephen Schwartz “Children of Eden.” Both Jones and Palma are recipients of CUP’s John Graves Memorial Scholarship, helping to further students’ college studies in the performing arts. Eden opens Friday, June 29, for two weekends. Tickets are available now at the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce.

By Sally Neel
Special to The SUN
On June 29, Curtains Up Pagosa (CUP) will open the curtains on a gem of a musical by Stephen Schwartz (music and lyrics) and John Caird (script) — one that never hit the Broadway stage, but that has become a favorite in the world of musical theater.
“Children of Eden” is an ambitiously glorious musical presentation of the biblical book of Genesis. It is a joyous and thought-provoking study of faith, relationships, joy and sorrow, hardship and choice, and, ultimately, love and hope.
Schwartz has a number of successes under his belt that include “Godspell,” “Pippin” and “Wicked,” as well as lyrics for successful Disney movies such as “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and music and lyrics for “Enchanted.”
The musical follows the story of creation. God, known as “Father” throughout the play, has created a perfect garden, a place that is not only beautiful, but a safe place for his children to live. He delights in giving them this ideal place to live — a place where they can live in innocence, a place where they do not have to face evil. It is indeed heaven on earth. But, Father also gave his children the ability to choose, and their choices, though baffling to him, bear the consequences that are handed down to generations to come.
Schwartz brings these biblical stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah and the flood to life with a musical poignancy that relates to the difficult choices we make to this day.
There are musical themes that run throughout the play that remind us that being a parent is difficult, sometimes rewarding, and often frustrating work. The song “The Hardest Part of Love” reminds us that, as parents, we carefully build a nest for our children that is safe and protected, but eventually we have to let them go to fend for themselves and make their own choices, good or bad. Throughout the musical is another theme of love that is the promise of redemption and hope. We still have the option to choose good over evil and love over hate.
CUP proves once again that we have exceptional homegrown talent right here in our small town. Most of these amazing actors have been nurtured and mentored by CUP for a number of years, honing their skills and allowing them to display their accomplishments on stage.
Music Director Robert Neel, who plays the part of “Father,” is a CUP scholar, graduating with a degree in the performing arts from Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Malinda Fultz Burnett, another CUP scholar, who recently received her master’s degree in music education, will be conducting the pit orchestra and cast during the performance.
Other longtime CUP actors include Gus Palma (Adam and Japheth), Kaitlyn Smith (Eve), Jeremy Medina (Cain), Hunter Swinehart (Abel), Doug Roberts (Noah), Crissy Ferguson (Mama Noah), Taylor Jones (Yonah), Trace Gross (Seth), along with a host of others, both young and old, who will be either returning or joining the cast for the first time.
Dale Johnson, longtime production director of CUP, promises that this is a musical that you will not want to miss. Not only is it a feast of beautiful music, it is a timeless story of humanity that speaks to us personally, a story that fills us with hope and promise.
The show opens at 7 p.m. at Pagosa Springs High School beginning June 29 and continuing on June 30, July 1 (2 p.m. matinee), and will resume on July 5, 6 and 7. Tickets will be available at the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce or at the door.

This story was posted on June 29, 2018.