Ensemble Stage is ‘Searching for Eden’

By Frank Ruggiero (frank@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Jun. 13, 2013 | Modified: Jun. 24, 2013
Ensemble Stage is ‘Searching for Eden’

Jennifer Loadmann and Andrew Hampton Livingston star in Ensemble Stage’s production of ‘Searching for Eden,’ running June 15 through 23 in Blowing Rock.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero



Ensemble Stage went searching for Eden and found comic paradise.

James Still’s “Searching for Eden (The Diaries of Adam & Eve)” runs June 15 to 23 at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium, promising a veritable garden of jibs, jabs, laughter and heart.

And with a focus on new beginnings, it’s appropriately the Blowing Rock-based professional theater’s first show of the summer season.

“It’s actually quite a cool little twist on the whole Adam and Eve thing,” artistic director Gary Smith said.

The first act — rather loosely based on the Book of Genesis in the Bible — takes place at the beginning of time, with Adam by himself in the Garden of Eden.

“And then Eve comes along,” Smith said, “and he’s not used to someone there talking all the time. She decides to take it upon herself to be the one to name everything.”

Needless to say, the two don’t get along very well — in the beginning. “Then, as the play progresses, they fall in love and all that fun stuff,” Smith said.

Act II brings a modern spin to the story, taking place in present day. Adam and Eve, however, have only aged about 40 years, despite living together throughout the millennia.

Both are working jobs, Eve as a screenplay editor and Adam as a marriage counselor. As Eve grows increasingly distracted by her work, Adam decides to take her back to the Garden of Eden for their anniversary.

“But it’s not really the Garden of Eden any more,” Smith said. “It’s been bought by a corporation and is now a posh resort and spa, called ‘E.’”

The reflecting pool is now a Jacuzzi, and the infamous apple tree has been cut down. “It’s a really cute, funny play — a neat little take on the whole Adam and Eve story,” Smith said.

Adam is played by Andrew Hampton Livingston, a professional actor currently based in Abingdon, Va., and Eve by Jennifer Loadmann, a resident of Avery County whose experience includes teaching drama and numerous performances.

“It’s sweet, exciting and fun,” Livingston said of the production. “This is a very different take on Adam and Eve, kind of like an older married couple with kids.”

“And we look pretty good to be thousands of years old,” Loadmann said.

Although there’s laughter aplenty, Livingston said the play also explores the human side of Adam and Eve.

It’s a side the actors bring to life, Smith said.

“You know you’ve got a good show when you’re watching rehearsal and feel like you’re kind of eavesdropping, because they’re playing it so natural,” he said. “That’s kind of the way this is. They’re really good.”

Smith also hopes the story is something with which audience members can relate.

“I think there’s a connection that any audience member can have,” he said. “If you’re a woman, you’ll certainly buy into some of the jabs that Eve — unbeknownst to her — makes at Adam. Good theater’s always when you can relate to things, and guys will be able to relate to Adam’s frustration with Eve in that first part. Everybody will be able to relate.”

The first act, he said, is all about new beginnings, discoveries and the inherent frustration that sometimes comes with it, followed by the realization that just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s bad.

“But when everything is all kind of modernized, they’re dealing with modern issues and modern problems,” Smith said. “But Adam manages to generate a reconnection for them about what’s important in life. It’s a very sweet play, and I hesitate to call it a love story or romantic comedy. It’s a comedy that has a lot of heart.”

Ensemble Stage’s production of “Seaching for Eden” runs June 15 to 23 at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium, located at 160 Sunset Drive in downtown Blowing Rock. Show times are 7:30 p.m. June 15, 17, 18, 21 and 22, with 2 p.m. matinees June 16 and 23. Tickets cost $19 for adults, $17 for senior citizens, students and members of the military and $10 for children younger than 16. Tickets, including season passes, are available at http://www.ensemblestage.com or by calling (828) 414-1844.

For more information, visit http://www.ensemblestage.com.

Additional Images

Jennifer Loadmann and Andrew Hampton Livingston star in Ensemble Stage’s production of ‘Searching for Eden,’ running June 15 through 23 in Blowing Rock.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Andrew Hampton Livingston and Jennifer Loadmann star in Ensemble Stage’s production of ‘Searching for Eden,’ running June 15 through 23 in Blowing Rock.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

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