The Youth Theatre of Northern Baltimore County is celebrating its 10th anniversary by putting on a musical featuring songs and lyrics written by Stephen Schwartz, composer for Broadway hits "Godspell" and "Wicked."
Some 64 kids ranging in age from 3 to 18 will perform "Children of Eden" on June 19, 20, 21 and 22 at the Manor At Gunpowder Falls at Our Lady of Grace Church, in Parkton.
"This is my absolute favorite show of all times," said Mary Miller, the director who started the theater group in 2004. "Stephen Schwartz has such a way with the melody and harmony, so the music is great. It also has great lessons about getting second chances in this life. Every choice we make affects our life, our character and our integrity."
The musical is loosely based on the Book of Genesis. It is divided into two stories that both focus on issues of family and love. The first features Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and follows their lives through several generations, including their sons, Cain and Abel.
The second story follows Noah after he is told to build an ark because a flood is coming.
Allie McLoughlin, of Baldwin, a rising senior at Notre Dame Preparatory School, plays Eve.
"I've been in 12 shows here, the first when I was 10, and I'm very, very excited about this one," she said. "The music is actually very modern with lots of different tempos."
Kirby Smith, 16, a rising senior at Calvert Hall College High School who lives in Baltimore, portrays Adam. This is his first production with the Youth Theatre.
"These people here are very talented," he said. "There's not a lot of dialogue in the play since it's all about the music. The story is basically all about relationships."
Sam Boelens, a Hereford High School junior, and Robbie Spratt, a Calvert Hall sophomore, play Adam and Eve's two sons.
This is the first Youth Theatre play for Spratt, who is a member of the Maryland State Boychoir. Boelens has been in numerous plays at Hereford High and with the Youth Theatre.
"This is a great show and the music is beautiful," Boelens said. "It tells a really good story."
Jack Owen, 15, of Fallston, who will be a freshman at McDonough School, has the role of Noah. He has also been in many Youth Theatre productions, including "Seussical," in which he played the Cat in the Hat.
"Noah starts out taking his order from God, then he has to start making his own decisions," Owen said.
His wife guides him in making those decisions. Kaitlyn Jones, 17, a senior at Notre Dame Preparatory School, plays this role.
"I am the moral compass," She said. "I think this is a holistic play that's very emotional and will tug on your heartstrings."
Hereford High School senior Patrick Chaney, of Parkton, plays the role of God, who is referred to as Father throughout the play.
"Children of Eden" also features Kelsey Brush, Colton Ridgely and Sam Bolens as Noah's children, and Olivia Dias as a descendant of Cain whose presence on the ark angers Noah.
There are also many children who act as storytellers. Miller said they are crucial to the play and help move the story along.
The musical will be presented at 7 p.m. on June 19, 20 and 21. A matinee on June 22 begins at 1 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for general seating or $18 for a guaranteed seat in the first three rows. Tickets may be ordered by going to http://www.ytnbc.org. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Audience members are asked to bring a canned or nonperishable food item that will be donated to local food banks.
Out Lady of Grace Church is located at 18310 Middletown Road, Parkton. For more details, call 410-329-6826.