Lovers & Madmen’s winter mainstage brings fresh perspective to biblical tales


Michelle Sheinker/The Daily Northwestern

Two actors portray the characters of Adam and Eve in Lovers & Madmen’s winter mainstage “Children of Eden.” The biblically-inspired musical will run in McCormick Auditorium this Friday and Saturday.

Daisy Conant, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor


How does one retell a tale as old as time? Communication junior Jeremy Sutherland thinks he has the answer — with vibrant colored lighting, 40 to 50 compelling musical cues and a cohort of 15 “crazy talented actors” narrating the story from a modern perspective.

Student theatre company Lovers & Madmen hopes to present a fresh take on a classic old series with its winter mainstage “Children of Eden,” bringing its adaption of the biblically-inspired musical to McCormick Auditorium this Friday and Saturday.

The musical follows the first nine chapters of the Book of Genesis, from the stories of the creation of man and the Garden of Eden to Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood. Sutherland, who directs the show, said this particular adaption of the Bible interested him because it delves into why the characters make the choices they do.

Thematically, “Children of Eden” highlights generational conflict, following God — named “father” in the show — through his children and their children’s lives, Sutherland said. He noted that the plot allows audiences to see the impact of how parents set up the world for their children, as well as how each generation takes that world and makes it their own.

“Within the original text you get facts about what’s happening — Eve ate the apple, Cain killed his brother — but not a whole lot of that investigation into what is really happening for the characters in those moments,” Sutherland said. “We get to do a lot of that in the show, which is really exciting.”

Sutherland said he emphasizes reflection on the work by directing the show’s narrators to express their own opinions in their storytelling.

While this direction is not explicit in the original script, Sutherland said having the voices of Northwestern students come through in the characters helps to “build out the world beyond the sometimes very straightforward lyrics that we get.”

To follow that direction, cast member and Communication freshman Maddie Novak said she performs her narration role as “half Maddie, half storyteller” on stage.

“Something I’ve never really had to do before is infuse some of my own perspective into the character,” Novak said. “That’s been a challenge for me, the blending of the two that we’re experimenting with in this show… But it’s really cool to see the story brought out in this way.”

Another difficulty the production team faced is scale, said Ilana Zahava Abusch, the show’s accounts manager. The Communication freshman explained that the musical runs for two and a half hours and is almost completely sung through, giving the cast only four weeks of rehearsal to choreograph, block and perfect over 20 musical numbers.

However, Abusch said the group worked well throughout the process and the show is “perfect” for the cast. She added that this musical plays especially well into Lovers & Madmen’s mission to produce classically inspired work from a fresh perspective.

“It’s a beast of a show… but it’s a magical show,” Abusch said. “It really captures the art of adaptation and taking classical stories — stories that have been heard over and over and over again — and making something new and beautiful out of it.”

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