Friday, Aug. 31-Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, the Hale Centre Theatre, 50 W. Page Ave. in Gilbert, Ariz., presents “The Secret Garden,” an enchanting musical based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Winner of three Tony Awards, the story centers on Mary Lennox, a young girl orphaned in India when cholera takes the lives of her parents. Sent to Yorkshire, England, to live with her reclusive uncle, Archibald Craven, and sickly cousin Colin, Mary is angry and obstinate. When she encounters a neglected garden and its secrets gradually come to light, both Mary and the garden begin to bloom. With music by Lucy Simon, and book and lyrics by Marsha Norman, “The Secret Garden” provides entertainment for the whole family.
Prices range from $10 for youths 6-18 to $24 for adults. Show times are 7 p.m. on Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, and 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Get tickets online at www.HaleTheatreArizona.com or call the box office at 480-497-1181.
On Broadway, “The Secret Garden” opened at the St. James Theater April 25, 1991, where it enjoyed a run of 706 performances, and Time magazine called it “the best American musical of the Broadway season.” Daisy Eagan as Mary Lennox became the youngest actress ever to win a Tony Award. Others in the case included Rebecca Luker as Lily Craven and Mandy Patinkin as Archibald Craven. In addition, Marsha Norman won a Tony for “Best Book of a Musical.”
Producing the show for Hale is founder/owner David Dietlein. More than merely a beautiful story for young people, he says, “this show is about courage and the willingness to search for the magic in life and the joy that awaits all who open their eyes.” He also states that “beyond the remarkable music, beneath the enchanting mystery are layers of meaning for audience members of all ages.”
Randy Messersmith will direct the production, making his directorial debut at Hale. In addition to being the theatre arts director at Scottsdale Community College, he is a professional actor, director and producer, and has worked extensively in theater in New York and throughout the U.S. and Europe, and in independent film and television. He is also co-founder and former artistic director of the Arizona Shakespeare Festival and the Southwest Shakespeare Company. His ariZoni Award-winning productions include “Road to Mecca,” “A Winter’s Tale,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Henry V.”
Musical director for “The Secret Garden” is Lincoln Wright. A native of Mesa, Ariz., Wright serves as the company pianist for Ballet Etudes and has taught the musical theatre workshop offered by Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre’s summer program. In addition to performing in “Forever Plaid,” a past Hale production, he served as music director for Hale’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” He has also composed music for several productions, including Southwest Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Tempest,” and “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” for which he won an ariZoni Award for best original music.
More than 120 people auditioned for this production of “The Secret Garden,” a play which requires top-notch talent to perform its challenging musical score, a score that includes songs such as “Come To My Garden,” “A Bit of Earth,” and the show-stopping duet “Lily’s Eyes.” Award-winning vocalist and current ariZoni nominee Hector Coris is one of those who made the cut. The New York born talent will play Dr. Neville Craven. In addition to having just played Harry MacAfee in “Bye, Bye, Birdie,” Coris’ recent local roles include Aldolpho in “Drowsy Chaperone” at Mesa Community College and Nicely Nicely in “Guys & Dolls” for the Scottsdale Musical Theatre Company. His CD “Life is Wonderful” is available at HectorCoris.com.
Local actress Tatum Weight will play the ill-tempered and unhappy Mary Lennox. Overjoyed that she got the part, Weight says, “My cheeks hurt so bad from smiling.” She has appeared as Charlie Bucket in “Willy Wonka” and the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” with Studio 3. In addition, she has portrayed Annie in “Annie” and Fan in “The Christmas Carol” at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater. Some of her favorites performances include appearing in “The Jungle Book” and “Dora’s Pirate Adventure” with Valley Youth Theatre.
Bryan Stewart will play Archibald Craven. Stewart played Tommy Albright at Hale in the ariZoni-Award-winning production of “Brigadoon.” More recently he has been seen in Phoenix Theatre’s “Les Miserables,” produced in collaboration with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music theatre performance from Arizona State University.
Lyndsey Miller will make her debut at Hale playing Lily Craven. Other roles she has played include Amalia in Arizona State University’s production of “She Loves Me,” Cunegonde in “Candide,” also at ASU, Luisa in “The Fantasticks” at Rodger’s Memorial Theater, Rapunzel in “Into the Woods” at Murray City Ampitheater and Gianetta in “The Gondoliers” at the University of Utah. She received her bachelor of music in vocal performance from the University of Utah and master of music in musical theater performance from Arizona State University.
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