THE SECRET GARDEN - THE MUSICAL to Open 11/30 at Chance Theater

Chance Theater presents the fifth show of its 15th Anniversary Season - a family-friendly holiday offering The Secret Garden - The Musical with book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Marsha Norman, music by Tony Award nominee Lucy Simon, and directed by Casey Long and KC Wilkerson. The Secret Garden - The Musical will preview on November 29 and 30, open November 30 and continue through December 29 at Chance Theater.

This enchanting classic of children's literature is now a brilliant musical by a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. Orphaned in India, an 11 year old girl returns to Yorkshire to live with an embittered, reclusive uncle and his invalid son. Her own personality blossoms as she and a young gardener bring new life to a neglected garden. This Tony Award winner is a treasure for children and adults alike.

"I am so delighted to be returning to this musical again this season," says director Casey Long. "It is certainly the darkest of the three shows that make up our Holiday Literature Series - along with Anne of Green Gables and Little Women - but that means that it has to work that much harder for its happy ending. There's a reason this show won three Tony Awards - it has a powerful score and deals with some real issues, but also holds onto the magic and wonder of a timeless coming-of-age story where the garden isn't the only thing that finds life again."

The Secret Garden - The Musical premiered on Broadway at St. James Theatre in April 1991. The cast featured Mandy Patinkin, John Cameron Mitchell and Daisy Eagan (who would become the youngest female recipient of a Tony Award).

In addition to Eagan, the show would win two additional Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical (Marsha Norman) and Best Scenic Design (Heidi Landesman). The production was also nominated for Best Musical, Best Original Score (Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman), Best Featured Acress in a Musical (Alison Fraser) and Best Costume Design (Theoni V. Adredge). The show also received 14 Drama Desk Award nominations, including Outstanding Musical, and received three for Book, Orchestration and Set Design. After 709 performances, The Secret Garden closed on January 3, 1993.

The musical is of course based on the popular novel, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was initially released in 1910 in serial format. Interestingly, the novel was mostly overlooked during Burnett's lifetime. In fact, her obituaries mainly focused on another work entirely - Little Lord Fauntleroy. It is now widely regarded as one of the best children's books of the twentieth century. In addition to the Broadway musical, there have been numerous other adaptations, starting with a movie in 1919, but also including a Japanese anime series and an opera by American composer Nolan Gasser which premiered earlier this year at Zellerbach Hall at the University of California, Berkeley.

Marsha Norman is an American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. In addition to The Secret Garden, she has also written the book and lyrics for the Broadway musical The Red Shoes, as well as the libretto for The Color Purple. Norman's first play Getting Out was produced at The Actors Theatre of Louisville and then Off-Broadway in 1979. The play reflects Norman's experience working with disturbed adolescents at Kentucky's Central State Hospital, and had a successful run. This success led to continued work with Actors Theatre and eventually writing 'night, Mother, which would turn out to be her best-known work, given its Broadway success and its star-powered film version. The play, dealing frankly with the subject of suicide, won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Hull-Warriner, and the Drama Desk Award. Most recently, she has written the libretto for the musical adaptation of the film The Bridges of Madison County, with the score by Jason Robert Brown. The musical premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival on August 1, 2013 and is expected to open on Broadway in January 2014.

Lucy Simon began her professional career at the age of sixteen singing folk tunes with sister Carly as The Simon Sisters and later folk-rock. Simon made her Broadway debut as the composer of The Secret Garden, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award. She also wrote songs for the Off-Broadway show A... My Name Is Alice. She composed the music for a musical version of the Russian novel Doctor Zhivago, with lyricists Michael Korie and Amy Powers and book writer Michael Weller. The musical had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse, in May 2006. She won a Grammy award in 1981 together with her husband, David Levine, in the Best Recording for Children category for In Harmony/A Sesame Street Record, and again in 1983 in the same category for In Harmony 2.

The Secret Garden - The Musical features Music Direction by Taylor Stephenson, Choreography by Robert Hahn, Production Design by KC Wilkerson, Sound Design by Casey Long, and Costume Design by resident artist Erika C. Miller.

The production will feature Jillian Batt, Lindsey Campbell, Stanton Kane Morales, resident artist Laura M. Hathaway, James McHale, Brandon Sanchez, Ashley Arlene Nelson, Holden Ergdorf, Rachel McLaughlan, Robert Parkison, resident artist Sherry Domerego, Richard Comeau, Miguel Cardenas, Eloise Coopersmith, Katie Brown, John Scoggins and Jonathan Widen.

The Executive Producer for Chance Theater's production of The Secret Garden - The Musical is Mary Beth Adderley.

The community partner for this production is the Anaheim Public Library Foundation.

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