Children of Eden is a retelling of several stories from the Book of Genesis: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah's Ark. The show takes liberties with the stories and is more of an allegory about the relationship between parents and children than it is about religion.
The musical play is written by Stephen Schwartz, and the book by John Caird.
Not to be confused with Child of Eden.
This musical provides examples of:
- Acting for Two: The script states that the actors who play Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Seth in the first act return in the second act to play Noah, Mama Noah, Japheth, Ham, and Shem respectively and that no attempt should be made to hide it. If Cain's wife is given an actress, it will almost certainly be the actress who plays Yonah.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Basically the whole point of the musical. God is not all-knowing and all-loving, but flawed, naive and sometimes even selfish. Eve is not tempted by the devil or meaninglessly rebellious, but a creator looking for knowledge. Cain is not evil, but suffering from the same 'problem' Eve had, and looking for answers no one will give him.
- Cain and Abel: Literally, of course.
- Character Development: God, of all people (deities?) goes through the most. He starts out selfish and looking out only for his own interests and seems to have 'children' to glorify himself. He needs obedience and control from his children and his quick to anger and slow to forgive. By the end of the show he has realized that he has to let go of his children and let them live their own lives.
- Children Are Innocent: Father thinks this of Adam and Eve, and thus they need to be controlled.
- Circle of Standing Stones: Full use is made of this, not only revealing that other people exist, but also serving as the setting for a few plot twists and a climactic event.
- Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Eve's curiosity gets her and Adam expelled from the garden of Eden, and certainly brings them and their descendants misery and trouble, but it is also presented as what gave Eve the ability to grow up, make her own choices and live her own life for herself, not only as someone's child. She does not regret what she did.
- Constantly Curious: Eve.Eve: Why did you put questions in me?
Father: Why did you disobey me?
Eve: That's not an answer!
- Dark Reprise:
- "Spark of Creation" gets two, one as Eve realizes she has passed the yearning she has to Cain, and doesn't like the look of it, and a second when Noah confesses God doesn't talk to him any more, and Mama Noah must convince Noah to make a choice for himself.
- The Wasteland is reprised as Abel's Death Song.
- 'Father's Day' is reprised by Adam when he realizes he can either control his children and risk their hatred or let them go.
- Death Song: Abel's reprise, but also, Children of Eden could be considered Eve's death song.
- The Descendants of Cain: Japheth falls in love with Yonah, a descendent of Cain.
- Divine Parentage: Adam and Eve have the original, of course.
- Doting Parent: Father is one, for better or worse.
- The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Ain't It Good"
- Forbidden Fruit: The Trope Namer appears of course, but it is not so much the lure of the forbidden that tempts Eve, but she truly desires the knowledge that it will bring her.
- Happily Married: Adam and Eve, and Noah and Mama Noah.
- Generation Xerox: A major theme of the show.
- God: Or, Father, as he's called.
- Gospel Revival Number: "Ain't It Good"
- Greek Chorus: The Storytellers
- "I Am" Song: 'Spark of Creation' for Eve, 'Lost in the Wilderness' for Cain, 'Stranger To the Rain' for Yonah and 'Father's Day' for Father.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: In versions where The Snake is played by five women, they tend to be portrayed as slinky, seductive and dressed in darker colors, with Eve as an innocent mother of humanity whos traditionally put in a long white dress.
- List Song: "The Naming", in which Adam names the animals, and "Generations", one of those big long "begetting" lists from The Bible done as a fun production number.
- Meaningful Echo:
- 'Oh Father, please don't make me choose/either way it's more than i can bare to lose' is first said by Adam to Father, when Father tells him to stay in the garden without Eve, or leave with her. It is then said by Abel to Cain, when Cain tells him to come with him, or stay behind as he leaves the garden. The third is in the second act, when Noah cannot choose whether to throw Yonah and Japheth off the boat, or marry them and risk god's wrath.
- 'Here we are, your grateful children' is echoed by Father as 'ungrateful children' a few times, and eventually becomes 'Fare thee well, my precious children.'
- Father says "No more questions, daughter Eve. It's time to sleep" twice. The first time is when she's an excited child tiring herself out with curiosity. The second is when she's a grandmother about to die, worrying about the future of her children and humanity.
- 'Father's Day' is echoed by Cain's bitter "Is this what it means to be a father...?" The first time, the tune is innocent and soothing, and the second time, it's bitter and mocking.
- The tune of the title song crops up first as Father presenting the garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, Eve saying goodbye to all her children in the first act finale, Yonah setting the dove free in the second act, and then by the cast to the audience at the very end of the play, with a different meaning each time.
- In fact, half the point of the show is in the parallels between characters' actions. The script calls for certain scenes to be staged the same way to highlight the parallel (for instance, Adam choosing between Eve or God is staged identically to Abel deciding between Cain and Adam, one generation later). These motives help reinforce that.
- Overprotective Dad: Father, again, but so is Adam.
- Playing Gertrude: Adam and Eve in most productions, since they traditionally appear youthful at the beginning of the show, but are the parents of teenage Cain and Abel by the end of Act One. May or may not also become a case of Hollywood Old, depending on the production.
- Recurring Riff: So, so many. In fact, try to find a melody that ISN'T repeated somewhere.
- Rule of Three: Used to set up a hilarious joke for the snake. He first asks two weighty questions of Eve, "If God made all this, who made God?" and "What's beyond the garden?" and then follows it with "If two cranes leave Eden at the same time, and one of them travels at seven times the speed of the other, how long..." before being cut off by Eve.
- Sadistic Choice: Adam is forced between choosing staying with God in the Garden of Eden or leaving it for good.
- Sssssnake Talk: The Serpent's number, "In Pursuit of Excellence", is carefully designed around this trope.
- Stealth Pun: Near the end of the show, Noah is asking his children where they plan to go. Shem says that he plans to go "East ... towards the rising sun" and his wife, Aysha, says that they'll bring along "The tigers, the pandas, the elephants with little ears". Ham plans to go "South ... across the desert which no one has cross, to seek the great land beyond" and his wife, Afrash, plans to take "The lions, the ostriches, the elephants with the big ears". One can guess which two continents they plan to settle...
- Turn Out Like His Father: Adam and Eve are afraid Cain will turn out like her, and he does (only worse).
- Truly Single Parent: Father makes Adam and Eve. There's no mention of a 'Mother'.
- Villain Song: 'In Pursuit of Excellence' for the Snake.