STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
The story of “Children of Eden” is a tale as old as time. It’s a story of generations as told in the Bible book of Genesis. And it’s the latest production staged by the Wolf Performing Arts Center (Wolf PAC).
Bobbi Wolf, Executive Director of Wolf PAC, thinks “Children of Eden” is an impactful musical.
“As a parent and a grandparent, I can tell you that the message is beyond powerful,” she said. “It talks about generations and families, and that saying, ‘the hardest part of love is the letting go.’”
Artistic Director Tim Popp said the stories from the Old Testament are beautifully reimagined.
“It’s about parents and children, free will and control, power and love and the struggle that comes along with all of that,” he said.
The show features more than 70 actors, ages 7 to 70. There are some professional actors in the cast (and in the crew), but the focus is the children. They participate in programs at Wolf PAC, which is based in Wynnewood (soon to move to Bryn Mawr), and then audition for parts in the productions. Wolf PAC aims to allow as many children as possible to be involved, Popp said.
The musical was written by Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the popular musicals “Godspell” and “Wicked.” The kids weren’t as familiar with “Children of Eden,” Popp said, but when they started working on it, “they started to understand the beauty of the story,” he said. “It’s more than just a fun, splashy musical. It means more.”
Olivia Prendergast, 17, of Penn Valley, plays Eve. The Harriton High School junior is having a great time in her first show. She previously participated in Wolf PAC’s summer camps, but this is her first production performance.
The story of Eve (and Adam and the snake) in the musical is somewhat similar to the one in the Bible, she said, but it’s different, too.
“Eve’s looking for something more. There’s something out there that’s bigger and she doesn’t know what it is, but she wants to find it,” Prendergast said.
Throughout the show, both Adam and Eve age and change.
“They start out as small children in their personality sense,” she said. “They grow into each other and grow into the story.”
The most well-known song Prendergast sings is called “The Spark of Creation.” The rest of the music is beautiful as well, even though the vocals and arrangements are challenging, she said. It’s a challenge she enjoys, though, and Prendergast hopes to major in classical vocal performance in college.
And even though the show features stories from the Bible, it’s not about religion.
“It’s about the meaning behind it,” she said.
The meaning behind being a part of Wolf PAC: kids gain confidence and skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives; and audiences will encourage that as well as discover great theater.
Wolf hopes that people will come to the performances of “Children of Eden” to see a great show, to support the kids, and especially to appreciate the work the children have put into it, which is apparent because “We love what we do,” she said.
IF YOU GO
What: “Children of Eden” by Wolf Performing Arts Center
When: 7:30 June 12; 2 p.m. and 7:30 June 13; 2 p.m. June 14.
Where: The Bluett Theater, St. Joseph’s University, N. 56th Street and Overbrook Avenue, Philadelphia.
Info.: Call (610) 642-0233 or visit www.wolfperformingartscenter.org