Children of Eden Opens SDSU's Newly Renovated Main Stage Theatre

The large-scale musical features a sweeping score and a message that aims to inspire.

Friday, October 13, 2023
MFA Musical Theatre students headline Children of Eden, a coproduction by the School of Theatre, Television, and Film, and the School of Music and Dance. (SDSU)
MFA Musical Theatre students headline "Children of Eden," a coproduction by the School of Theatre, Television, and Film, and the School of Music and Dance. (SDSU)

San Diego State University’s Main Stage Theatre celebrates its grand reopening with the performance of the 1991 musical, “Children of Eden.” The School of Theatre, Television, and Film will collaborate with the School of Music and Dance to present the production which will be accompanied by the SDSU Symphony Orchestra and SDSU Choirs. The production runs October 26 - 29.

“Children of Eden,” written by Stephen Schwartz and John Caird, is based on two stories from the Book of Genesis. 

“Although this story is biblical, the themes of the story involve family, betrayal, and ultimately reconciliation,” said SDSU’s Head of Musical Theatre Robert Meffe who is also the production’s musical director.

“It asks us to ‘choose to drop the knife…our hearts can choose to stop the hating’ and ‘the choice is in our hands,’’' said Meffe. “In a world filled with violence and strife, this message is a clarion call for peace and reconciliation.”

Stephen Brotebeck, director of the play, describes it as “a show of intergenerational conflict, family relationships, and what it means to let go of your children to live their life by themselves.”

“Audiences will experience an exciting and moving piece of musical theater performed at the highest level with a symphonic field to it,” said Brotebeck. 

In addition to Brotebeck and Meffe, the production is led by School of Music and Dance faculty members Arian Khaefi, director of choral studies, and Michael Gerdes, director of orchestras.

Auditions took place during the first week of classes, with the selection of seven students earning their Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, as well as undergraduate students who are also part of the Musical Theatre program. There are close to 100 students involved in the performance including the SDSU Symphony Orchestra and choir members..

“Being able to participate in something at this grand of a scale — because it really is monumentally huge — could be a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Brotebeck. “To sing a very popular musical with a full symphony orchestra and a full chamber choir...not anybody gets to sing with a symphony orchestra in their life.”

Plans for the Main Stage renovations and the creation of the SDSU Performing Arts District started in early 2019. The Main Stage, previously known as the Don Powell Theatre, had not seen a significant update since 1967. 

The renovation of the 491-seat interior includes ADA accessibility upgrades, improved audience sightlines, special acoustic tiles for optimal sound quality, and state-of-the-art technology. The new mechanical, electrical and media systems will provide a better live audio experience, for both performers and audience. The rigging system is a combination of five electric winch lighting batons and 30 counter-weighted line sets. They will also add LEDs, lighting fixtures and moving lights to the dimmer-per-circuit electrical system. 

“To hear a musical with a full symphony orchestra and chamber choir is rare nowadays,” said Brotebeck. 

“Children of Eden” is expected to sell out for all four shows. The design of the new building won the 2020 AN Best of Design Awards, Honorable Mention

Tickets and Information:

“Children of Eden” is scheduled for four performances: 7:30 p.m.Oct. 26, 27 and 28 and 2 p.m. Oct 29. Tickets can be purchased online

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