Art, Drama & Elementary Students Team Up

Senior Kaylee Piatt is appearing in her eighth production as a cast member of the 2014 spring musical, Children of Eden, and says the latest show by far incorporates the most special effects she has ever seen on the CJ stage.

“This show would not be nearly as great without the collaboration of the visual arts program and our Special Effects Team,” Piatt said.

New this spring, a group of student crew members known as the Special Effects Team worked after school under the supervision of Janet Lasley, CJ art teacher, to create animal puppets. Puppets were made from mostly donated and household items and include elephants, horses, flying birds and comets, jellyfish, giraffes, turtles, anteaters and more. The puppets will be operated by actors on stage.

“It’s been fun working on the Special Effects Team because you get to spend a lot of extra time with your friends,” said sophomore Orfa Hernandez, who is involved in a performing arts production for the first time this school year. Her favorite piece is the horse mask made of paper mache.

Weeks prior to opening night, a few members of the cast and Special Effects Team had the opportunity to practice with their animals and learn from professional Darren Brown, a puppeteer from the Zoot Theatre Company in Dayton.

“Puppetry is a very selfless way to perform, but that’s what makes it special,” Brown told students. Zoot is a local non-profit organization and a resident company in the Dayton Art Institute’s NCR Renaissance Auditorium.

Children of Eden is a two act musical based on the Book of Genesis. Opening night is Friday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the CJ auditorium, and the production also runs Saturday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 6 at 2 p.m.

Piatt takes the stage playing a lead role as Eve, but will also play a storyteller and serve as a puppeteer.

“The visual effects combined with the music and biblical themes make Children of Eden a very powerful and emotional show,” she said, and added that there is a little something for everyone -- children included.

In fact, the musical features more than a dozen area elementary school students in grades 5-8 who auditioned for the show in January. On Tuesday, April 1, those performers will get to show off their talents for friends and peers when their classmates from St. Helen, Mother Brunner and Holy Angels fill the auditorium to watch a special sneak preview and take part in a youth workshop.

Tickets for Children of Eden are $10 for adults, $8 for students, and $5 for kids in grades K-8. Doors open approximately a half hour before each show April 4-6.