Familiar story of Adam and Eve told two ways in one night

9:37:51 AM CDT - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

The familiar story of Adam and Eve will be told in two productions at WSU Nov. 2-5, giving audiences a chance to experience a musical theater production and an opera production on the same night. But while the storyline may be a familiar one, the creators of both pieces have added witty, tongue-in-cheek spins to the story about the world’s first couple.

And in another interesting twist, one of the actors actually paid to get the chance to play God.

“The Diary of Adam and Eve” and “Eve’s Odds” will be performed as part of the College of Fine Arts’ Opera and Musical Theatre Series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 2-4, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, in Wilner Auditorium.

The production run coincides with the west central regional meeting of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, being hosted by WSU’s School of Music, so it will give conference participants an opportunity to see WSU’s musical theater and opera programs in action, said Ed Ehinger, the artistic director of Opera Kansas who is guest directing “The Diary of Adam and Eve.”

“The Diary of Adam and Eve” is one of the three acts that make up the musical “The Apple Tree,” written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick who created “Fiddler on the Roof.” The act is adapted from a Mark Twain story of the same name. The original 1966 Broadway cast starred Alan Alda as Adam and Barbara Harris as Eve. The tongue-in-cheek musical is billed as charming and fast-paced.

“Eve’s Odds,” by Bruce Trinkley and Jason Charnesky, is the first-place winner of the National Opera Association’s 1999 Chamber Opera Competition. In this witty 45-minute opera, the Snake and his allies (including Adam’s mysterious first wife, Lilith) try to get Eve to eat the apple, while Adam and the forces of heaven try to stop her. While the character of Lilith has appeared in such books as “Hebrew Myths,” audiences will be introduced to a wide range of other characters, said Linda Starkey, who is directing the piece.

For example, Bad Angel, another temptress who has a cha-cha number in the piece, was added by the composers to “have more fun with the story,” Starkey said. A 12-member women’s ensemble will offer commentary and issue warnings by way of song.

The character of God in “Eve’s Odds” will be played by Wichitan Courtney Ruthven, who won the walk-on role through live auction during the College of Fine Arts’ annual ArtScape fund-raiser last month, Starkey noted.

Tickets for “The Diary of Adam and Eve” and “Eve’s Odds,” which are rated G for general audiences, are $15, with discounts available. Call 978-3233 for reservations.

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