"Children of Eden" fills a bunch of the requirements for a Pittsburgh Musical Theater seasonal show.
"It is an epic that actually has resonance at this time of year," PMT's Ken Gargaro said. "It's a good fit for the Passover-Easter slot."
The play features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by John Caird that follows the Book of Genesis from Adam and Eve to Cain and Abel to Noah and the flood.
Mr. Gargaro has a specific point of view about staging what he describes as a "quasi-rock show."
"My take is channeling it like it might have been done 4,000 years ago, when these stories were being told verbally, to the wider community. I stage it in a more presentational style, with the band on stage, as if the audience was there and watching the show by torchlight."
In his vision of PMT as Pittsburgh's community theater, the musical also calls for a chorus of angels, animals and humans, which helps Mr. Gargaro get more people involved in the mix of professional actors and students. The company sent out a call for chorus members, and about 20 adults auditioned, which has turned into a family affair for the show.
Dick Roberts, president of the New Perspectives public relations firm in the Strip District, will be onstage with his twin daughters, Delaney and Dierdre. Ken Doyno of the Rothschild Doyno Collaborative architectural design company also has a spot in the chorus, while his daughter Alaina will play a butterfly.
There are about 100 people, including an eight-piece band, involved in the show that PMT last performed in 2005. One of Noah's sons will be played by Quinn Shannon, who was Tiny Tim for PMT in 1991. Pros include John Byles (Pittsburgh Public Theater's "1776"), while recent company favorites from Mr. Gargaro's Robert Morris University program will include Logan Williams, Nina Danchenko and Victoria English. It all comes together in a two-week rehearsal period.
No worries, said the director. "One of the nice things about having some longevity in the process, and this is my 23rd year, we have it down to a science."