Krystal Joy Brown and Jose Llana in Falling For Eve
(© Carol Rosegg)
Krystal Joy Brown and Jose Llana in Falling For Eve
(© Carol Rosegg)
Charming, funny and exceptionally well-performed, the new one-act musical Falling for Eve, now at the York Theatre Company, just might be God's gift to the recently-launched theater season. Moreover, given the plethora of shows that have plumbed the depths of the Adam & Eve tale, it's a pleasant surprise that the creators have found a fresh take that lifts the all-too-familiar story out of clichéd territory and into a winsome blend of musical comedy and sweet romance.

The book, by 2010 Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro, sharply differs from other tellings of the traditional fable in one major respect. There is no devil (in any incarnation). Instead, God is played with amusing political correctness by both a man (Adam Kantor) and a woman (Sasha Sloan), and is revealed to be flawed -- which truly explains how we were made in God's image.

As for our famous ancestors, when warned about the terrible curse that will befall the human race if they dare eat the forbidden fruit, Adam (Jose Llana) innocently comments "That's an awful amount of pressure you're putting on a snack." As per the original, Eve (Krystal Joy Brown) gives in to temptation, and is tossed out of The Garden of Eden. But she is banished alone! Adam refuses to disobey God and stays in Eden, while Eve roams the world experiencing pain, suffering, and a sense of wonder at all that she sees.

However, they are the only two humans on earth and need to be together, a situation which God's angels, Michael (Nehal Joshi) and Sarah (Jennifer Blood), fully understand. Luckily, not only do these two sympathetic creatures help bridge the gap between heaven and earth, they do so with considerable humor.

The music by Bret Simmons is bright and engaging and the lyrics by David Howard are alternately witty and downright poetic, and the strong combination of the book and score gives everyone in this talented cast an opportunity to shine. Brown stands out with a stunning vocal performance as Eve. Llana has never been more winning; his comic innocence as Adam is hilarious, and his transition at the end from boyishness to manhood is palpable. Joshi and Blood are delightful comedians; Sloan makes her mark in a memorable R & B number, and Kantor stands out by giving his performance a richly comic complexity.

The show also has a bold set design by Beowulf Boritt, enhanced by smartly stylized lighting design by Herrick Goldman. But much of the credit belongs to director Larry Raben, who has shaped and sharpened this show to the point of pure musical comedy pleasure.