Salve students will make history performing on Broadway in ‘Children of Eden’ concert
For the very first time in the history of Salve Regina’s theatre program, 22 students will be performing on Broadway in a concert production of “Children of Eden,” a musical by the famed Stephen Schwartz, at the Lincoln Center in Feb. 2024.
“When I found out that Broadway wanted our Salve cast to perform at the Lincoln Center with famous Broadway actors, I did not understand what I was being told,” said Matthew Desorcy ’24, a theatre arts major. “It took me a moment to realize that I would actually be performing on Broadway—and when I told my parents, they could not have been more proud. It’s a dream come true.”
So how did this dream happen for Salve students?
An unexpected phone call
“Children of Eden” is a musical that uses Biblical stories found in Genesis to think through themes of family conflict, identity and acceptance. The tales of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel are featured in Act I, while Noah and the Ark are featured in Act II.
Salve’s theatre program had performed “Children of Eden” in the spring of 2023. While it is a show written by Schwartz—who wrote famous musicals like “Wicked” and “Godspell”—“Children of Eden” itself has never been performed on Broadway until now.
The Broadway concert performance is being produced by Manhattan Concert Productions, who called Dr. Tara Brooke Watkins, the program director of Salve theatre’s program, this past summer out of the blue to invite the students to audition by way of submitting a cast recording of the ensemble singing.
After viewing the recording Dr. Watkins submitted, Manhattan Concert Productions was so impressed they asked if Dr. Watkin’s students would be interested in performing during the Broadway concert.
“I have never had somebody call and say, ‘Hey, we want you to audition for Broadway,’” said Dr. Watkins. “When I first even got the email saying they were they were trying to get a hold of me, I thought it was a joke. But it was completely legit—and we are now taking 22 of our students to perform at Lincoln Center…. I’m still a little in shock that this is happening.”
All of the leads for the concert have been cast with well-known Broadway stars like Auli’i Cravalho, Nikki Renée Daniels, Jordan Fisher and Norm Lewis — and Salve’s students will be part of an estimated 350-person chorus to round out the cast. The students are being assigned to sing in either Act I or Act II because of how vocally demanding the show is. Stephen Schwartz himself might also be making an appearance during the show.
“I am a big fan of Jordan Fisher, who will be performing as Cain in ‘Children of Eden,’ so I am extremely excited for the chance to work with him in a professional setting,” said Desorcy.
The show opens Feb. 18, 2024, and tickets will go on sale Dec. 19, 2023.
Students react to the chance to perform on Broadway
To say that the 22 students who are performing on Broadway are excited for such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is an understatement.
“The cast and crew put so much of themselves into our production of ‘Children of Eden,’ and to have all the hard work recognized by those who work alongside the best in the business was amazing,” said Anna Annese ’26, a theatre major with a minor in music. “We are a small school, and it was empowering to be seen and chosen.”
No matter what happens in the future, the students say that they will never forget this chance, and they are excited that Salve’s theatre program is being recognized with such a national spotlight.
“I am undoubtedly grateful for the hard work and long hours that Salve theatre has put into perfecting every show performed throughout the four years I’ve been here,” said Desorcy. “This opportunity goes to show the dedication artists have when chasing their dreams. They refuse to go unnoticed.”
The students performing on Broadway are fundraising to cover the cost of hotel rooms, theatre workshops, transportation and more, and are hosting a Gala Cabaret Night at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 in the Casino Theater to garner support. The evening will feature performances from alumni and current students in the theatre arts program. Open to the University community and the public, admission is $25 for general and $10 for Salve Regina students.
“For some, this has been a lifelong dream come true — something that we have been working at since we were little,” said Annese. “Every theater kid dreams about being able to perform on Broadway someday, and for Salve our someday is coming in February.”
For more information, please contact Dr. Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.