Rare Bird’s Ode will present the world premiere of “The Garden,” a modern retelling of the Garden of Eden by E.A. Messenger and Jim Schmitt, at 7:30 p.m. on June 15-16 and 2 p.m. on June 17 at Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St., Rochester.
The family-friendly musical directed by Matt Mayne features original artwork by R.J. Ketchum, music direction by Schmitt and choreography by Cheryl Johnson. The 15-person cast includes local professional and young actors, with Jon Madden as Adam, Ericka Hopkins as Eve and Greg Ludek as Shame (The Tempter).
“The Garden” is the first of five musicals by Messenger and Schmitt. “Garden Tools,” the educational packet version of “The Garden,” received an AVA Platinum Award for audio-visual original music from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. “Good Shepherds” also won the AVA Platinum Award, and was featured at the Rochester Fringe festivals in 2015 and 2016. Other works by Messenger and Schmitt are “Whelmed!,” “The Ark” and “The Four Horsemen.”
“Each musical in the ‘Simple Ode’ collection is a retelling of classic biblical stories, presented in a modern and whimsical musical format, with the goal to introduce them to a new generation in a fresh and exciting way,” Schmitt said. “Since we began working together, we have produced six musicals, each with a vocal and orchestral CD and an illustrated companion book with artwork by renowned local artist Ron Ketchum.”
Each musical includes a lesson planner, making the series ideal for religious educational programs, Sunday School classes and homeschoolers.
“Now we are in the process of adapting each musical for the stage, and are excited to debut ‘The Garden,’” Schmitt said.
Mayne, who directed shows for Theatre Young Kids Enjoy and A Magical Journey Thru Stages, recently was appointed artistic director for Greece Performing Arts Society.
“This is a really fun, family-friendly story that most people know, but with some exciting twists to keep it very interesting,” Mayne said. “The music is catchy. The talent is great, with many familiar Rochester performers coming together to bring this original production to stage.”
Admission costs $15 in advance, $18 at the door for adults; $12 for groups of 10 or more; $5 for students; and free for ages 5 and younger. Tickets are available online and at Wegmans.
Visit rarebirdsode.com for information.