Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Stage is set for musical of biblical proportions

A BIBLICAL musical by the writer of West End smash-hit Wicked is the next big show

A BIBLICAL musical by the writer of West End smash-hit Wicked is the next big show coming to the Kenton Theatre.

Children of Eden has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, who also wrote Godspell and Pippin, with a book by scriptwriter John Caird.

An amateur production by the award-winning Reading Operatic Society, the show is playing at the New Street theatre from Wednesday (April 13) and runs until Saturday, April 16.

The society scored a big success with its spring show at the Kenton last year when The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas went on to win best musical in the National Operatic and Dramatic Association’s London region awards.

The same show was nominated for best chorus work and best female character in a musical, with Anna Jennings as Miss Mona being highly commended for the latter.

Understandably enough, Reading Operatic Society chairwoman Yvonne Maynard says her members are looking forward to being back in Henley.

She said: “It’s always a privilege to perform in such a great old theatre. There is a special magic which you don’t seem to get in the more modern theatres. The Kenton is such a lovely theatre — as soon as you walk in there’s that atmosphere.”

Children of Eden is an exuberant, emotional musical that tells the story of Adam and Eve’s journey from the Garden of Eden, the rivalry between Cain and Abel and the struggle faced by Noah and his family as they prepare for the devastating flood ahead of them.

Loosely based on the first nine chapters of the Bible, it is a classic tale of good versus evil, rebellious children, family feuds, sibling rivalry, letting go and unconditional love.

Full of large choral numbers and solo songs that mix traditional operetta sounds with pop, jazz, gospel and Caribbean music, the show abounds with catchy, witty melodies.

Yvonne said: “If people have seen Wicked then they know how good the music will be. In fact, Stephen Schwartz has always maintained that Children of Eden was his best and favourite show.

“The complex musical numbers provided a major challenge, but Anton Gwilt our musical director has worked very hard to produce an amazing sound and [director] Sally Anne Coleman has done some imaginative choreography with children and adults.

“We have lots of children in the show who play both minor principal roles and also perform as the animals.”

Work on the production began back in October, and Yvonne said everyone involved — not least the  41-strong cast — is now raring to go.

She added: “The title often puts people off as it sounds very religious, but it really is worth seeing — lots of great dancing and we are so very lucky to have some excellent principal singers. There is music to suit all tastes — rock, gospel, jazz, pop and Caribbean music. Fabulous.”

There are four evening shows, each of which start at 7.30pm, plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinée. Including the interval, the show runs for 175 minutes.

Tickets are priced £18 for adults, with concessions at £16 available for senior citizens, students and children. All tickets for the Saturday matinée are £15.

To book, call (01491) 575698 or visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk. For more information on the show, visit www.readingops.co.uk

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