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Thursday, March 25, 2004 03:32 pm

Backstage Pass 3-25-04

Mama Noah (Michelle Boone) and Aysha (Becca Coakley) greet the bunnies (Caroline McKenna, Grace Thompson) in Children of Eden.

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School this week reprises the musical Children of Eden, which was produced there a few years back and eventually was performed at Muni Opera. The show, which tells the Old Testament stories of Adam, Eve, Noah and the Flood, has a great score by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, and the current Wicked) and is directed here once again by Stephan Kaplan. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March 26-27, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 2-3, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 4.

Also opening this weekend:

• Tommy, the classic rock opera by The Who, plays at Springfield Theatre Centre Friday-Sunday, March 26-28, and Friday-Sunday, April 2-4. Derry Dalby directs the show, which features newcomer Ralph Shank in the title role. This is an exciting musical theater work with Becky Watts directing the challenging vocal score and Carly Shank choreographing the musical numbers. Others in leading roles are Andy VanDeVoort, John O'Connor, Amanda Ratz, and John Sivak. (For tickets, call 523-0878.)

An aside about STC: This theater organization is growing and deserves applause for taking risks. Look at this season alone, which featured Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, the recent As You Like It, the current Tommy, and the upcoming Holes (based on Louis Sachar's book). None of these productions are the typical community-theater fare we've been used to in recent years. And next season, STC will offer the Pulitzer Prize-winning Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical Sunday in the Park with George.

• Combined casts from Southeast and Lanphier high schools perform Fiddler on the Roof at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March 26-27, at Southeast High School.

• Springfield's Figure Skating Club performs its annual ice show at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 27, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 28. (see related story on page 19)

Productions of note next week:

• Springfield Ballet Company performs Swan Lake at Sangamon Auditorium on Friday-Sunday, April 2-4. (For tickets, call 206-6160.)

• Ken Bradbury and Robert Crowe's play about Lincoln in Jacksonville, titled The Shadow of Giants, will be performed at the Morgan County Courthouse in Jacksonville at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 2-3, and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 3. Directed by Sylvia Burke, the play features Greg Bergschneider as Lincoln and Bob Large as Chicago Tribune reporter Colin Stewart.

• Turasky Productions brings professional actor Jim Waddell to Springfield in An Evening With Mark Twain, on Saturday-Sunday, April 3-4, at the Center for the Arts in downtown Springfield. The show is performed in the style of Twain's famed Lyceum tours. The musical group The River Ramblers will perform on the program.

Looking ahead:

• Plan on seeing the 1925 Noel Coward comedy about a family of actors, Hay Fever, in the Studio Theatre at UIS, on April 9-10 and April 15-18. The play's directed by Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson. (For tickets, call 206-6613.)

• What looks like an interesting new work will be unveiled at the Center for the Arts when David Cain's The Passion of the ___ premieres Saturday, April 10. The recent Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ has generated some passionate discussions. And Cain's performance piece takes a look at that phenomenon. The piece includes original music and animation, featuring dancers from the Springfield Ballet Company, as well as local actors.

Cain calls himself an "unbroken media" artist who has been creating, composing, teaching and performing for over 25 years. He says this performance asks filmmaker Mel Gibson and others, "Is only what you're looking at, what you know?" It looks like performance art has finally hit Springfield. A pre-show discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. and the performance follows at 8:01 p.m. (For more information, contact Cain at 528-3333.)

• Two weeks and more than 250 auditions for the summer shows at the Muni Opera have been completed and here are the actors who won leading roles: C.J. Stephens and Becky Watts in Honk! (a new musical based on The Ugly Duckling); John O'Connor and Elizabeth Donathan in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Carly Shank, Aaron Silcox, Don Comacho and Carolyn Otten in A Chorus Line; and Cory Blissett, Mike Presney and newcomer Mike Wallace in Big River. Congratulations to all.

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