"CHILDREN OF EDEN" IS MAGNIFICENT Part 2

Craig Schulman, who gives robust and heart-felt performance as Father, is the only musical theater performer to play the Phantom in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Jean Valjean in LES MISÉRABLES, and the schizophrenic title character in JEKYLL & HYDE. Schulman is equally effective here, with a regal demeanor that dominates the stage and a powerful singing voice that rattles the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium rafters. Joe Cassidy is handsome and charming, first, as Adam and, later, as Noah.

But Sabrina Scherff, an exotic beauty with a big Broadway voice, outshines Cassidy with her incandescent performance, first, as the restless Eve and, later, as the peacemaker Mama Noah. The Snake that tempts Eve to take the fatal bite is a wonderfully wicked creation that takes five performers to animate. Timothy Ford, David Hyland, Stephanie Fredricks, David Hyland, Julie Foldesi, and Lauren Rodman turned the Temptation scene—delightfully dramatized in "In Pursuit of Excellence"—into a real show-stopper as they shamelessly sliver around the stage. In Act I, NCT veteran Ray Walker plays the hot-headed Cain like a temperamental spiky-haired rock star with an "anger management" problem. In Act II, he plays Noah’s rebellious son Japheth with brio. In CHILDREN OF EDEN, Japheth defiantly chooses as his bride a fictional character from the race of Cain that Schwartz and Caird created to heighten the drama aboard the Ark: the lovely and sweet servant-girl Yonah (poignantly portrayed by Stephanie Fredricks, whose stirring solo on "Stranger to the Rain" is one of the show’s musical highlights).

When Noah reluctantly rejects Yonah, because Father is calling down the Flood to destroy ALL of the race of Cain, Japheth smuggles Yonah aboard the Ark, setting the stage for an explosive showdown when the rain won’t stop and the rest of the family finally discovers the unwelcome stowaway whose very presence just might incite Father to cancel this final "second chance" for the entire human race.

New York director/choreographer Tee Scatuorchio, another NCT regular, injects a lot of snap, crackle and pop into this outstanding production of CHILDEN OF EDEN. Scatuorchio puts pizzazz into the production numbers and stages this must-see musical with a great deal of style and imagination. Producer William Jones took a big chance by scheduling this popular musical, an audience favorite that opened in London in 1991 but never played Broadway. His gamble paid off HANDSOMELY in one of this year’s biggest and best musicals—and a sure bet to be on some critic’s 10-best list for 2002.