In part two of a series of interviews with the cast of Damascus Theatre Company’s Children of Eden, meet Kevin Sockwell.
Where have local theatergoers seen you perform before on our local stages? What roles have you played?
Mainly directing lately, but most recently on stage as Marty in Tantallon Community Players’ Dreamgirls and Ken in Vagabond Players’ Ain’t Misbehavin’.
Who do you play in Children of Eden, and how are you and your character alike and different?
I play Father who is the God-like character mirroring events from the Bible. Different – well, God I am not. Alike – every time I tell people I am playing this role they say “Perfect”. I’m a big guy, I have a big presence, and I am a loud, booming baritone.
More importantly, both Father and I have nurturing qualities in wanting the best for others and love seeing people grow.
What is Children of Eden about from your character’s point of view?
The show is about the struggle any parent contends with regularly: How much does one protect a child while allowing for growth and freedom. The struggle of love and protection vs. freedom and letting a child go is very real. My character could control anything and everything, but in trying to do so, things do not work out as planned. Ultimately, he learns to let go.
How did you prepare for your role, and what challenges did you face when preparing for your role?
Having done the role twice, prep has been fairly minimal. However, the challenge is looking at everything anew and being able to look at the piece from a fresh perspective.
How did Director Keith Tittermary help you with your challenges and what is the best advice he gave you about playing your role?
Keith has given me the freedom to rediscover the character on my own through both past experience and what I see anew. More importantly, he has me focus on having the character be kind, benevolent and quite human.
How would you describe Stephen Schwartz’s score for The Children of Eden?
It’s a score with powerful songs about innocence and discovery that are very catchy and sweet. Musical themes are repeated by the different father and son characters of the story, and the tension this love-hate relationship often has in life.
How would you describe a Stephen Schwartz song?
I’ve loved Stephen Schwartz since doing Godspell Off-Broadway in the 70’s and I broke several Pippin albums back in the vinyl days. I describe his music as fun, rousing, mischievous at times, and with a level of humanity and vulnerability that reaches out to us all.
Which song that you don’t sing is your favorite and why?
Ain’t It Good…upbeat Gospel flavor. Sing a song like that anytime and I’m a happy camper.
What do we learn about your character when you are singing your solos or duets?
Simply put — he is a loving, benevolent father and that is not an easy thing to be. All my songs talk about the joys and struggles of fatherhood. The desire to protect and keep innocent while allowing for the freedom to grow. A fine line I know very few people can walk without stumbles and doubt. Father is kind and angry, sweet and distant; he’s learning how to manage all of these emotions as he struggles to be a father.
Why and how is Children of Eden so relevant to today‘s audiences?
The complexities of love and compassion are universal. They were true centuries ago and they will be true centuries from now.
There are over 30 cast members in this cast. What have rehearsals been like? When did you rehearse your role and songs? What has impressed you most about your fellow cast members and their performances?
Rehearsals have been fun and crazy – I mean, 30 people, some children (one might even be me). Everyone is working hard to get things right. I have been most impressed with how people of various abilities and ages are working hard to make a great show.
What have you learned most about yourself-the actor-while going through this Children of Eden experience?
I don’t know if I can separate the actor from myself in this show. I did Children of Eden twice with young people, did a duet with a 17 year-old student whom I had known since he was 10 – singing the duet with him was very, very emotional for me.
Recently, I saw an actor I performed Children of Eden with in a show in Frederick; he reminded me I was his first director when he was a child (good thing, because I had forgotten that). Currently, downtown at Arena are two young people, now very much adults, I stood on the stage with in Children of Eden and I smile thinking about their success as adults now.
Basically, what is being reinforced for me, as the role I play and as the person I am, is how much I enjoy seeing people grow in theatre, the emotional attachments I have seeing former students prosper, and how this is who I am and my character is. Doing Children of Eden again, with some young people, is making this revelation all the more poignant and emotional for me – on and off the stage.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Children of Eden?
The joy of life – it has ups and downs – but life is always a ride of fulfillment, discovery and decisions. Enjoy the amazing ride whichever direction it goes in.
Children of Eden plays from November 11th to 20th, 2016, at Damascus Theatre Company performing at Olney Theatre Center – 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, MD. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.
Meet the Cast of Damascus Theatre Company’s ‘Children of Eden.’ Part 1: Cheryl J. Campo.