The Chicago premiere of Stephen Schwartz’s newest musical features an enthusiastic, talented student cast in a visually striking production. Schwartz is no stranger to telling biblical stories in song and dance–he’s perhaps best known for Godspell–so it’s no surprise this musical is based on Genesis. It opens with Adam and Eve’s creation, then Eve is tempted to sin by a five-person snake dancing vaudeville-style, and by intermission Cain and his offspring have been cursed by a vengeful grandfather. The second act takes us on the Ark for 40 days and 40 nights with Noah and his “legendary zoo.” Some of Schwartz’s lyrics are true clunkers (“Oh Noah, you go-ah, all the way back to the protozoa”), and book writer John Caird (of Les Miserables fame) relies on blunt repetition to communicate his message, but overall the show is fresh and interesting. Sabrina Scherff’s Eve, Willis White’s Cain, Kevin Vortmann’s Noah, and David Garry’s Father are particularly impressive. Director Rives B. Collins’s attention to detail creates some beautiful imagery, though the use of flashlights under faces is too reminiscent of summer-camp storytelling to be effective. Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Center, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 1979 South Campus Dr., Evanston, 847-491-7282. February 15 through 18: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $22.

–Jenn Goddu

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Ryczek.