Make us your home page
Instagram

Live Oak Theatre to stage 'The Secret Garden'

Certain that he is going to be a hunchback like his father, Colin (Christopher Alexander) allows Martha (Caitlin Frostman) to show Mary (Elizabeth Kessel) the lump on his back, while the nurse (Gwyneth Mitten) looks on in their performance of The Secret Garden.  

Courtesy of Vince Vanni

Certain that he is going to be a hunchback like his father, Colin (Christopher Alexander) allows Martha (Caitlin Frostman) to show Mary (Elizabeth Kessel) the lump on his back, while the nurse (Gwyneth Mitten) looks on in their performance of The Secret Garden. 

BROOKSVILLE — A classic piece of English children's literature, The Secret Garden is among author Frances Hodgson Burnett's most popular novels. With several film and stage adaptations, its 1991 musical adaptation, written by Marsha Norman with music composed by Lucy Simon, was met with critical acclaim, snatching up three Tony Awards.

The musical is considered difficult to perform, with intricate music that goes practically nonstop for 2 1/2 hours. In fact, most amateur theater groups opt to use recorded soundtracks.

However, the Live Oak Theatre Company has taken on a more challenging quest, presenting the show with a live orchestra. The production opens today at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church and continues weekends through May 7.

The show features powerful songs, such as Lily's Eyes, The Girl I Mean to Be, Round-Shouldered Man, Come to My Garden and How Could I Ever Know.

"I've been in love with this music since it came out," said director Randi Hoidalen Olsen, who is also Live Oak's artistic director. "The music is beautiful and complex."

Olsen said the show is an excellent fit for Live Oak, featuring four lead roles for youth (two children and two teenagers). She said Live Oak's philosophy is providing family-friendly musical productions that allow the adult performers to guide and mentor young performers.

The lead role of Mary is double-cast, with Elizabeth Kessel, 11, and Emma Day, 10.

"Mary is a substantial role," Olsen said. "They have to sing and speak with a British accent, and they are on stage 95 percent of the show. … It is a lot of responsibility."

The Secret Garden is the story of young Mary Lennox, an unloved and unpleasant child whose parents die of cholera while living in India. Mary is sent to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Terry Edwards), a hunchback still mourning the death of his wife, Lily (Stephanie Barnett Sager/Randi Olsen). There, she meets her bedridden cousin, Colin (Elijah Torres/Christopher Alexander), who is cared for by Archibald's brother, the smothering Dr. Neville Craven (Jason Yungmann). Mary finds a forgotten and neglected garden that she is determined to fix up and bring back to life, with the help of the kindhearted and gentle Dickon (Benjamin Staley).

The show also features Holly Frendburg and Caitlin Frostman as Mary's maid, Martha; Ron Dykes as the gardener, Ben Weatherstaff; Mahle Truitt as Rose, Mary's mother; and Julie Hofstede as Mrs. Medlock, who is in charge of the servants.

An ensemble of children will function as the garden.

"They look adorable," Olsen said.

As with all Live Oak productions, dessert will be served with the show, with tables set around a thrush stage.

>>if you go

Live Oak Theatre Company presents 'The Secret Garden'

When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, today through May 7.

Where: Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 200 Mount Fair Ave., Brooksville.

Tickets: $18; $5 for children 12 and younger. Visit liveoaktheatre.com or call the box office at (352) 593-0027.

Live Oak Theatre to stage 'The Secret Garden' 04/27/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 12:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What to expect from the Florida Orchestra's 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' show

    Events

    With just a few short tings from the celesta, a small piano-style instrument, and you're instantly transported to Harry Potter's wizarding world.

    Courtesy of the Straz Center
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 27

    Events

    Sleeping With Sirens: The alt-hardcore outfit tour in support of their album, Gossip. 6 p.m., The Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. Start at $22. (813) 248-9500.

    Handout photo of Sleeping With Sirens, performing 9/27/17 at the Orpheum in Tampa. Credit: Chris Sullivan
  3. Shriek peek: Top haunted events lurking this Halloween season

    Events

    Here are some of the top Halloween events and parties that are looming in the coming scary season.

    “Thriller” music video featuring Michael Jackson with Vincent Price and Ola Ray. Scary movie comes true on a date, while Michael and zombies dance. ?? 1983 Optimum Productions Songwriter: Rod Temperton Album: Thriller Director: John Landis Production Dates: Late 1983 Primary Production Location: Los Angeles, CA.
  4. Halloween season is upon us: Our top 5 wild and mild haunted attractions

    Events

    Halloween has become a profitable scare season oozing well into September and past November. That means more time to meet grim, grinning ghosts, get your pants scared off by nightmarish clowns and fill your treat bags to the brim.

    Scare actors roam the grounds of Busch Gardens in Tampa during their annual Howl-O-Scream Halloween themed event. Howl-O-Scream continues on select nights through Oct. 29 at the Tampa theme park. Howl-O-Scream is a separate ticket event and has seven haunted houses, five scare zones and the chance to ride coasters in the dark. [Friday, September 22, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  5. Wine of the week: Leese-Fitch 2015 California Sauvignon Blanc will cool you off

    Bars & Spirits

    September is still summertime in Florida, and we can still use a cool white wine at the end of a hot day.