ST. LOUIS, Mo. (June 18, 2012) – The Youth Sing Praise Foundation will present a free performance of the biblical musical “Children of Eden” in the outdoor amphitheatre at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows on Saturday, June 23, 2012, at 7 p.m.
“With a score by Stephen Schwartz, ’Children of Eden’ is a musical retelling of the Book of Genesis,“ said Dr. Joseph Koestner, a veteran member of the Youth Sing Praise theatrical staff. “In ‘Children of Eden,’ the Creation story—including Adam, Eve and Noah—becomes a moving meditation on the tension and tenderness of parent-child relationships.”
Starring dozens of talented teenagers, this production of “Children of Eden” is unique in that the participants and production staff have less than a week to prepare for the one-night-only performance.
“The high school students rehearse for more than nine hours each day,” said Koestner. “Singing, dancing, blocking, learning lines—it’s a tall order, but these kids truly love what they do. In the course of rehearsing the show, so many different people have come together to form a beautiful community. It‘s wonderful.”
Originally founded and funded as a ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Young Sing Praise now operates as a stand-alone foundation, an independently funded organization which has applied for 501(c)3 nonprofit status.
Said Donna Eisenbath, program director of Youth Sing Praise, “When the economy turned and the Shrine was no longer able to fund the program, we knew we had a choice—band together and raise the money or end a program that has changed the lives of more than 1000 participants and tens of thousands of audience members over the course of its 30-year history. There was no question in our minds—continue the good work begun by the Oblates and save YSP.”
Without an official source of funding, and as it awaits its 501(c)3 standing and eligibility for grants, Youth Sing Praise relies on the support of private donations and the generous collaboration of the Missionary Oblates and their entities.
"It’s been tough, but we did what we had to do,” said Eisenbath. “We’re thrilled that so many people have come together to make YSP happen this year.”
In this pivotal year, Eisenbath highlights the importance of YSP’s unique blend of theater and spirituality.
“With so much darkness in the world, we realized that there was no one doing this for kids, reminding teenagers—particularly when so many teenagers may be picked on or bullied in their schools—that they are special, that they are loved exactly the way they are and that their talents are good things, astonishing gifts from God,” said Eisenbath. “This is a Catholic organization for young people who may have been overlooked. We bring them in with something they love and, in turn, remind them that they themselves are loved. It’s a powerful thing.”
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About the Youth Sing Praise Foundation
For 30 years, Youth Sing Praise has reached out to vocally and theatrically talented teens across the country through a Christian experience of prayer and the performing arts. With Catholic values of hospitality and transformation, Youth Sing Praise strives to help youth learn “who they are in the eyes of God." Youth Sing Praise’s professional theatrical and ministerial staff welcomes, affirms and strengthens the gifts of young people through training and faith sharing. Youth Sing Praise challenges teens to witness the Gospel through the performing arts and live as daring disciples of Jesus. For more information, visit www.youthsingpraise.com or call (314) 669-4977.