Eden in Babylon is a new musical by composer-playwright Andy Pope. Unlike many modern musicals, it is written in traditional form, with lots of spoken dialogue and underscore. As per traditional protocol, the characters sing only when “their emotions become too strong for them to express their feelings in spoken language.”
Thus there are fifteen solid, tuneful songs throughout the course of a two hour play with a well-developed plot. In this sense it hearkens to the days of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe, when musicals such as Carousel and Camelot were popular. However, despite its traditional flair, the music of Eden in Babylon is contemporary and progressive, playable with a five-piece “orchestra” involving piano, bass, drums, guitar and synthesizers.
Moreover, the themes of Eden in Babylon are topical and germane to social issues of the present day. In exploring the effects of homelessness on the youth of 21st Century America, it portrays the hugeness of the ever-widening gap between the super-rich and the grossly impoverished in today’s society. Though meant to raise awareness, Eden in Babylon also adheres to the time-honored maxims that once distinguished musical theatre from other genres of the Performing Arts. While no one would call the show “unrealistic,” it still winds up on the happy note of “presenting life not as it is — but as it ought to be.”
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