Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Echo Community
Mary Wilson portrayed Nature in the ECHO Community's 2019 production of "Garden," in New Orleans. Garden will have its first Atlanta performances in late July and early August to benefit the Pregnancy Aid Clinic.


‘Garden’ musical tells the oldest story in its Atlanta premiere 

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published June 16, 2023

ATLANTA—As the curtain goes up, Eve, now an old woman, and her son Seth visit the grave of Adam. And from there starts the story of humanity.    

“It’s the oldest story in the book, literally the oldest story in the book, but it is told in a way that that really presents it as if it’s something new, and it engages us,” said Joey Martineck, whose musical “Garden” gets its first performance in Atlanta in a two-weekend run starting at the end of July.     

The show is being produced by the Archdiocese of Atlanta with the Echo Community as the associate producer. 

Martineck, director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Ministry, began to write the musical in 2014 with the album “To the Dust” by Greg and Lizzy Boudreaux, a husband-and-wife duo, as his inspiration. At the same time, he was moved by St. John Paul II’s perspective on the human person, which affirms the sacredness of the body.  

It took him another two years before a first draft was ready to show to the songwriting team and another year working with them to revise and improve the script.  

His vision was to build the musical about humanity’s origins around the album, but that proved too constricting. The husband-and-wife team wrote new songs to tie in with the story instead of forcing musical pieces that did not move the story forward, he said.  

The show’s goal is “getting people back in touch with the deepest longings of their hearts and pointing those longings to the Lord, the only one who can fulfill them,” said Martineck. Those “deepest longings” are revealed through the lens inspired by a vision of women and men set out in St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.    

Joey Martineck, right, goes over stage instructions with Steven Corrales, who is portraying Adam, in “Garden.” Martineck wrote the musical and is directing its Atlanta premiere, which is based on the book of Genesis. Photo by Andrew Nelson

The 33-year-old studied computer science at Georgia Tech and was active in the campus theater scene. The first performance of “Garden” was at Notre Dame Seminary when he was a seminarian. The five shows in March 2017 were all sold-out performances.  

At a recent Wednesday rehearsal, Martineck gave instructions to Steven Corrales, who is playing Adam. The scene is when the audience first meets Adam. The director reminded Corrales how despite the beauty of the garden and being surrounded by playful animals, he is alone without a partner. Walking across the stage, Corrales sings “Lonely King.” It is a hopeful song yet full of longing.    

Corrales, 28, is a software engineer and sings as a tenor in Concordi Laetitia, a group of young professionals dedicated to singing polyphonic sacred music. He said one challenge is getting used to the physicality of acting, engaging with others on stage. As an engineer, he often works alone, so to be in a room with others and moving together to tell the story has taken getting used to, he said.   

He believes Martineck’s story draws in everyone.  

“It is important to remember Adam is the father of all humanity. We can see many facets of ourselves in him,” said Corrales, who worships at Atlanta’s Holy Spirit Church and Holy Family Church in Marietta.    

The stage’s most significant set piece establishes a sense of place: an expansive Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve’s house of wood, tree stumps and leaves also decorate the stage. The piece is a two-and-a-half-hour show. In addition to a cast of about 15 actors, the musical director is Christian Magby, an actor and composer at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre.   

Vanessa Meier plays the character of Eve. Meier, 28, is on summer break from her job as a sign language interpreter for Cobb County Schools. She was active in musical theater and chorus in high school, and her goal was to find an opportunity to match a show with her faith.

The audience will connect with Eve’s likable character, said Meier, a member of St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock. They get to watch Eve navigate this new, fantastic world, and even her decision to disobey God makes her relatable, she said. 

“Everyone has done something they said they’d never do,” she said.     

In the ECHO Community’s 2019 production of ‘Garden,’ Emily Ruli, center portrays Eve. Jacob Schweitzer, left, was the Goat, and Michelle Lane portrayed Red. The production will have performances in late July and early August in Atlanta to benefit the Pregnancy Aid Clinic. Photo Courtesy of ECHO Community

“Garden” will be at the 600-seat theater of Roswell’s Blessed Trinity High School. A band of eight musicians provides the music in the performance.  

Martineck said his purpose in writing the musical was to explore what God had intended for humanity. He has found artists often jump right to the seduction by the snake and humanity’s fall from grace, not exploring the time before then.  

“What was God’s original plan for man and woman before sin entered the picture and muddied up the waters? We kind of forget that and skip over and assume that this world, which is so broken is, is the world that God made, which it is, but God wanted a lot more for us in the beginning,” said Martineck.