This summer Trumbull Youth Association celebrates 45 years of summer musical theater, supporting the arts and providing teens a fun and creative outlet for expression and new friendships.

TYA was the vision of Trumbull town resident, Mary Keane, who in the tumultuous era that was 1968 was seeking a positive and uplifting way for teens to spend their summer. With a modest budget the group was able to hire a director, music director and choreographer and they produced TYA’s first musical, West Side Story which opened on an August evening in 1969 to thunderous applause. The talented teens and young adults of TYA have been entertaining audiences for the past 45 summers, staging one brilliant production after another.

The driving force behind modern TYA are Mary Joan Wright and Merial Cornell, affectionately referred to as “the Mamas” by the kids. Wright has been involved with TYA since 1999 when her oldest son appeared in Once Upon a Mattress. Cornell became involved with her oldest daughter in 2001 in the production of Babes In Arms. Both women are co-directors of the Youth Department and Producers of the summer musical. Those who work with them described them as tireless in their dedication to the kids and are involved in practically every aspect of the production, from props to set dressing. They can often be seen sewing costumes in any corner that will house their sewing machines. The women took over a program in decline that had shrunk to about 25 participants. They produced Seussical in 2009 and since then the program has close to 100 teens involved year round.

Four years ago, they re-launched TYA, Jr., a theater program for approximately 50 middle school kids who also put on a full scale musical production aided by 7 TYA counselors and headed by Maura Brown.

This summer TYA proudly presents its 2014 (and 46th) summer musical, Children of Eden. Based on the story of Genesis, Children of Eden provides a heartfelt and sometimes humorous perspective on the timeless conflict between parents and children. Children of Eden is described as lauding the incredible power of forgiveness and delivers a powerful and inspiring message: that the hardest part of love is letting go.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Godspell) and a book by John Caird (Director of Broadway’s Les Miserables) Children of Eden is a musical for audiences of all ages. Brett Boles returns to direct this year’s production. Brett is an award-winning musical theater composer, lyricist and librettist. He is also a performer who has appeared in over 35 productions, professionally and locally, and had the honor of performing on Broadway with the 2003 cast of Les Miserables. Brett said he loves working with kids and fostering their love and appreciation of theater. The TYA production staff also includes Musical Supervisor/Conductor Stephen Ferri, Musical Director Tom Cuffari, Choreographer Lisa Menilli and Scenic designer Martin Marchitto. Children of Eden will be accompanied by a ten piece orchestra comprised of Broadway musicians.

Children of Eden will run for two weekends: August 1, 2, 3 and August 8, 9, 10. Tickets are on sale now at Showtix4u.com. There will be a free show for senior citizens on July 31 at 7 p.m. at the auditorium at Trumbull High School.