For its annual musical, Soundstage Productions in Penticton will travel back in time, performing “The Secret Garden,” by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon, based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
The two-act musical opens later this month at the Penticton Lakeside Resort with shows running Jan. 24 - 27, with an additional matinee on the Saturday.
“It’s a good story that’s been around for more than 100 years,” director Lynn Leydier said. “It was made into a BBC series, a Hallmark series, Hollywood has done it. It’s a story that most people know. The material is pretty powerful. It’s dramatic, uplifting, and emotional, very unique, and it does have some funny moments.”
The Secret Garden premiered off-Broadway in 1989 and made it to the New York stage in 1991, winning Tony Awards for best book of a musical and best actress, and a Drama Desk award for best musical. The original cast included Mandy Patinkin and Daisy Eagan.
“The music is British orchestral, very dramatic, with 30 people singing with a live orchestra,” said Leydier, who also conducts the band. “It has some old folk tunes, natural elements, and for the first time we have a flutist in the orchestra. Misty Knol will be playing eight different instruments.”
Close to 100 children auditioned but, sadly, there are only two children in the cast. The musical remains true to the book, but gives an expanded presence to the adult characters.
“It’s a monster of a show, a very big period piece,” Leydier said. “There are some fabulous turn of the century costumes. From a production standpoint, it’s challenging to stage with storms and other visual effects that elude to one’s personal struggles.”
Leydier said the musical is appropriate for ages 12 and over.
The biggest challenge this year was the fact Christmas fell on a Monday, making it challenging to schedule all-day rehearsals on Sundays. The scope of the project has been a labour of love, Leydier said.
Soundstage’s previous titles include “Les Miserables,” “Hair,” “Evita,” and “Oliver!,” but most recently presented a variety show featuring songs from multiple musicals. This is the first time the Penticton company has done an actual play since 2015.
The all-local cast includes Maya Lefebvre as Mary Lennox, Andreas Nordlund as Colin Craven, Christine Robinson as Lily, Derek Beaton as Archibald Craven, Dustin McGifford as Dr. Neville Craven, Ashley Surowski as Martha, Josh Richardson as Dikon, Mia Harris as Rose Lennox, Dave Ramey as Captain Albert Lennox, Bruce Martel as Ben, Alex Holzhaus as Fakir, Anne Ramey as Aya, Adrienne Penner as Claire, Tiana Ferlizza as Alice, Tyler Evans as Lieutenant Wright, Lee Abel as Lieutenant Shaw, Cal Meiklejohn as Major Holmes, Beth Scott as Mrs. Medlock and Michelle Younie as Mrs. Winthrop.
Francis Dellosa, Brian Hesje, Nila Gaudiuso, Helena Mott, Catherine Critchlow, Keira Louw, Kaitlyn Turley, Selina Spence and Lee Taylor comprise the ensemble.
The orchestra features the talents of local musicians Dennis Nordlund on keyboards, Sandy Andres on strings, Leslie Cryderman on brass and woodwinds, Misty Knol on flute and recorders, Tavis Weir on guitar, Stefan Bienz on bass and Scott Gamble on percussion.
The show features choreography by Eve Noonan, Kerry Younie in the costume department, Mary Fry on set and props and Anne Rabbitte, Debbie Graham, Susan Selles and Michou Szabo working backstage. David Prystay is in charge of marketing and advertising.
Tickets are $45 and available in advance from the front desk of the Penticton Lakeside Resort. For additional details phone the hotel at 250-493-8221.