Towne Centre Theatre Presents THE SECRET GARDEN
The enchanting classic children's book, The Secret Garden, becomes a beautifully scored and staged live musical at Towne Centre Theatre in Brentwood, TN, with performances from August 11-26, 2017. The novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett is scripted for theatre by Marsha Norman, with music by Lucy Simon. The director for Towne Centre's production is Tim Larson, highly regarded in the Nashville area for taking large-scale Broadway musicals to smaller stages with mostly volunteer performers and creating remarkable theatre experiences for local audiences. He says The Secret Garden is one of his favorite musicals.
"Since I saw this show in New York in 1991 I fell in love with it," says Larson. "Even though it veers from the book a bit, it does a great job of capturing the Victorian children's story that is rooted in enduring symbols of growth, self-sufficiency and moral triumph that cuts across generations and has become a musical classic for all ages."
The musical is set in the early 20th century and tells the story of 11-year-old Mary Lenox (played by Faith Dengate), orphaned in India, who returns to Yorkshire, England, to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with compelling melodies and the "Dreamers," spirits from Mary's past who guide her through her new life, dramatizing The Secret Garden's compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal.
While there are several popular, long-running musicals about orphans (Annie, Oliver!, etc.), The Secret Garden adds a bit of haunted story and other-worldly ghost elements topped off by a lush musical score that commands strong vocal talent.
"I think this will be a great show to direct at Towne Centre as it will bring the audience right into Misselthwaite Manor, its haunted rooms, gardens and, finally, the Secret Garden," says Larson, "The musical score although quite complex is one of the best that I have heard."
Under the musical direction of John Ray, the Towne Centre cast includes local talent that is capable of the challenging vocals. Besides Dengate (Mary), the cast includes Katharine Boettcher (Lily), Mary Corby (Mrs. Medlock), NoaH Clark (Dr. Neville Craven), Maya Riley (Martha Sowerby), Kyle Pierce (Archibald Craven), Connor Richardson (Dickon Sowerby), Sam Holt (Colin Craven) and Brian Best (Ben Weatherstaff).
The cast features several youth performers between ages 9 to 15 years old, and unlike many productions of The Secret Garden, Larson's staging will have the children more visible throughout the performance.
"I added youth "Dreamers" because I wanted to convey that people of all ages were part of Mary's past and may have lived at Misselethwaite Manor throughout the years."
Larson also is a proponent of non-traditional casting when possible, creating diversity among the characters in many shows he directs, including The Secret Garden.
"We have a cast of 28 performers, ranging in age from 9 years old and up," Larson says. "Many have vast experience in musical theatre, a few are new to the stage, but all we cast in this show have great talent and I am excited to work with them."
The Secret Garden premiered on Broadway in 1991 and ran for 709 performances. It won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical; the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical.
The Secret Garden opens August 11th and runs through August 26th. Tickets can be purchased online at www.townecentretheatre.tix.com or by calling (615)221-1174. Thursday, Friday and Saturday show times are 8:00 pm Sunday shows are at 2:30 pm. Doors open 30 minutes prior to curtain. Tickets are $16 for students, $18 for military and seniors 60 and over, and $20 for adults. Purchase a specially priced Thursday 4-pack of tickets for only $60. Group rates are also available. Towne Centre Theatre is located at 136 Frierson Street in Brentwood.