How do you solve the problem of too much talent and only one play? Create two casts and have four shows. Problem solved.
Perham High School Choir Teacher, Nikki Mattfield said she hadn't heard of this particular production, Children of Eden, until this past spring, but when she saw the music was by Stephen Schwartz, (known best for Godspell and Wicked), it grabbed her attention. That, plus the gospel-inspired music is jazzy and upbeat, and the way the play is structured it gives her the opportunity to use a large cast.
"I know we have a lot of talent this year, and I wanted to do to something that would give me the chance to utilize that talent," Mattfield said.
She decided to put all that talent to use by running the play four nights and having two different casts. Something else unique for this play is the way the leading actors play two parts.
Mattfield said the writer of the play, John Caird, wanted the audience to connect the two acts of the show together, so he had the main leads playing two roles. For example, the character Adam in the first act is played by the same actor who plays Noah in the second act.
Perham's 2017 Community Musical, Children of Eden, runs November 16-19 and is a two act musical based on the Book of Genesis. The first act focuses on the story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, and the second act tells the story of Noah and the flood.
While it's based on a book from the Bible, composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz and playwright John Caird removed all biblical references and instead focused on the relationships between parents and their children.
The music explores topics such as the influences of one generation's experiences on its descendants and the challenges and blessings of free will.
Senior Ian Christenson, who plays Adam, has enjoyed being a part of the theater while in high school and feels it's a great opportunity for students to express themselves that they don't always get in school. When asked which show has been his favorite to be apart of, he thinks each one has something unique about it that makes it special.
"This one has such a good message, that it's a great one for bringing people together," he said. "But, then you have a classic like, Grease, and that's a favorite for completely different reasons."
Senior Shelby Burns, who plays Eve in the Friday and Saturday shows, is taking part in her second musical.
"I like working with the people, we all get so close. It's like a family," she said.
Playing the role of "Father," is David Howey. He feels the message of this particular play is very powerful for today and one he can relate to as a parent.
"There's that struggle between kids and parents and free will... and can we make better choices than what we do at any given time," he said. "It's a good message and told in a great way."
Mattfield enjoys the process and seeing the growth in her students from the first run through of the play on day one to opening night. "It's great to see them start to trust themselves and their abilities."
Tickets are $10 for students and seniors or $12 for adults. Buy tickets online at perhamcommunityeducation.com/community-musical-2 or at the box office, in the Area Learning Center, 510 1st Avenue South. It is open Monday through Thursday from 8am — 3:30pm, and Friday from 8am — 11am.
For all the shows, the cast for the following roles will be: Father: Dave Howey, Adam/Noah: Ian Christenson, Aysha: Lizzy LaFond, Aphra: Haley Budak, Seth/Shem: Tanner Knutson Young Cain: Bjorn Anderson; Storytellers: Mason Skorup, Lauren Schraeder, Emily Kirchenwitz, Jeff Fritz, Kyle Swanson, Dannika George, Malia Groff, Grace Kalina, Kaylee Baumgart, Kira Johnson, Dawson Honer, Kate Lachowitzer, Faith Jepson, Alysa Ralston, Faith Blonski, Haley Budak, Kolbey Bormann, Kya Olstad, Sabrina Israelson, Kjiersten Anderson, Ryan Murphy, Max George, Junior Nordick, Nolan Wade, Emily Van Watermulen, & Justin Spencer. Snake: Tanner Knutson, Lizzie LaFond, Lily Lorenson, Andy Newville, & Madison McAllister/Hope Johnson.
For the Friday and Sunday shows the cast for the following roles will be: Eve/Mama Noah: Shelby Burns, Cain/Japheth: Clayton Anderson: Abel/Ham: Andy Newville, Yonah: Madison McAllister, Young Abel: Daphne Hanson.
For the Thursday and Saturday shows the cast for the following roles will be: Eve/Mama Noah:
Audrey Swanson, Cain/Japheth: Jonathan Staebler, Abel/Ham: Seth Dykhoff, Yonah: Hope Johnson, Young Abel: Elsa Bieger.