In the Beginning of Saint Daniel’s Hall: The Children of Eden


Jordan Marshall

Benet Academy students pose for a picture before their performance of “Children of Eden” at Broadway In Chicago.

The musical “Children of Eden” has long been nicknamed “the show that built Daniel’s hall.” In 2000, Benet Academy students put on “Children of Eden,” which was so successful that they raised enough money to build a state-of-the-art auditorium in Saint Daniel’s Hall. This was no easy task, and practices were held late at the Abbey across the street. However, these dedicated performers laid the groundwork for Benet Academy’s top-notch performing arts facilities by gaining recognition for their outstanding performances. 

“Children of Eden” is a show primarily about community and creating the Earth. Based on the book of Genesis, the show’s first act covers Adam and Eve gaining dominion over the Earth. During the second act, Noah and his family rebuild the Earth after the flood. As the past students sang about the first steps in a new land, they took the first steps into Benet Academy’s future performing arts program. Every year, the story of Benet Academy students performing the “Children of Eden” is retold before closing night of the annual spring musical to remember the “giants” who came before students. Also, students before their closing night performance attend a mass including the altar from Benet Academy’s original “Children of Eden” set.

Benet Academy now has an auditorium, scene shop, and costume room built thanks to the raised “Children of Eden” funds in 2000 and also the new dance and vocal studios built in 2020. Due to the resources made available to performers by the “Children of Eden” cast, Benet Academy is known as a strong arts school. Due to their musical reputation, choir students were asked to sing in “Children of Eden” on Broadway In Chicago. Mr. Wand, who directs all Benet Academy choirs, felt thrilled about this opportunity and said, “[I] experienced the show as a child. The second time I saw it as a director was in 2009 with a wife and children. Then I saw it as a new father, much like Adam and Eve. Each stage has a very different perspective, so in my life journey seeing it through Caine’s eyes, Adam’s, Father’s, and Noah’s eyes are fun, interesting, and a blessing.”

Being a part of “Children of Eden” is nothing short of a dream for the 56 students who participated and will be fondly remembered for years to come. Sophomore Marisa Wood said, “Performing in ‘Children of Eden’ gave me more confidence in myself, and it’s always going to be a special memory for me.” For many, it served as a window into the world of professional theater and gave exposure to the hard work, excitement, and fun that comes with performing for such an audience. Such excitement was furthered by the positive and encouraging environment created by the other actors in “Children of Eden” as they were always quick to tell the high schoolers they did well. Moreover, the professional actor’s stunning performance inspired the students who were honored to work with and encouraged by such experienced performers. As both Noah’s wife and Eve, Michelle Williams was incredibly inspiring to the Benet Academy students who met her. Sophomore Mary Panatera said, “Being on Broadway In Chicago was amazing enough, but meeting her made it that much better!” Stephen Schwartz, the writer of “Children of Eden,” was also present during rehearsal, leaving many starstruck and excited beyond words. Sophomore Korina Mongirdas said, “Our posture became a little taller, and everyone’s voices grew a little louder as we sang.

Despite meeting renowned actors and being able to say they were on Broadway, being a part of “Children of Eden” held a much deeper significance to the Benet Academy students who participated. It showed them they were able to fulfill dreams and prove to themselves nothing is impossible while also providing an opportunity to find gratitude towards the show that gave them their stage at Benet Academy. Finally, it solidified their foundation and love for music, which will only keep building from here.