What: “The Secret Garden”
Who: Imagination Theater
Where: 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville
When: Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. to Sunday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. Visit imagination-theater.org for dates and times for all shows
Tickets: $10 for everyone on opening night and Saturday, Sept. 15. Then $17 for adults, $14 for 55 and over, and $10 for students
Information: Imagination Theater at 530-642-0404, imagination-theater.org or e-mail email@example.com
Two of the actors in Imagination Theater’s production of “The Secret Garden” have a combined 12 years experience in acting and singing in front of large audiences — but neither one is old enough to have a driver’s license.
Trinity Harwell and Ryan Johnson are both 13 years old and are eighth graders at Gold Trail Elementary School in Placerville.
Trinity is involved in her fourth play during three years at Imagination Theater. She has also appeared in other plays in the region over the last 10 years.
Ryan started acting two ago years at Olde Coloma Theater. He has been involved with four plays at Imagination Theater.
In “The Secret Garden,” Trinity plays Mary Lennox, a 10 year-old English girl sent to live with her Uncle Archibald in Yorkshire, England after being orphaned by a cholera epidemic in India.
Ryan plays Colin Craven, the son of Archibald. The young man is very ill.
At first Colin and Mary seem to shy away from each other according to Ryan.
“After awhile we become friends,” said Ryan.
“The Secret Garden” is based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnet.
Archibald is still grieving over the loss of his beloved wife Lily, who died 10 years earlier during childbirth. He is also distraught over the condition of his bedridden son Colin.
Archibald’s demeanor casts a dark shadow over the manor until Mary discovers a secret garden that belonged to Lily.
By nursing the garden back to life, Mary restores life to her grieving uncle and his sick son.
“There’s a charm in the garden and it brings my character back to health,” Ryan said. “It just rubs off on him.”
“The garden comes back to life,” Ryan said. “It’s just a happy story.”
Archibald is played by Jeremy Carlson, 35. Carlson describes Archibald as a “very conflicted character. He is continually in a fog and suffers from bouts of depression and melancholy over the death of his wife Lily. I think he feels a lot of frustration and guilt.”
Trinity, Ryan and Carlson have different approaches toward acting on stage.
For Trinity she has a positive attitude of, “Let’s go.”
“A lot of things go through my mind,” Ryan said. “A lot of nervousness.”
“I definitely feel a nervous energy before a show,” Carlson said. “However, once the show starts I am fully immersed in my character. I quickly forget about any nervousness as I focus on telling my part of the story through my character. I am actually able to feed off the response and energy from the audience which I feel often enhances my performance.”
Trinity gives credit to the play’s director Lorrene Baum-Davis for having each actor and actress dig “deep” into their respective characters. That preparation included researching their characters online.
“That really got us into our characters,” Trinity said. “It has been fun.”
Ryan added, “The rehearsals have been really good. Tense at some points in trying to figure out our lines. But I get to hang out with some fun people. I love my character; I feel that I’ve connected to my character. It’s going to be a fun show.”
Carol Cramer, 51, of Placerville, is the costume designer for the musical. She started sewing costumes at the theater seven years ago, and has worked on costumes for six plays.
For this musical, Cramer said she has put in 15 to 20 hours a week once rehearsals started toward the end of July.
Her work is intense at the start of a production when the costumes are in the designing stages.
“It’s my time to get everything together,” said Cramer.
Cramer reads through the entire script and looks at “all of the actions” the actors and actresses are going to do in the play. Then she checks to see if there’s any special requirements for the costumes.
Cramer asks, “Is it winter, is it summer, is it day?”
Cramer works on the costumes at home and then brings them to the theater at the beginning of rehearsals for fittings and to make alterations.
The rest of the cast includes: Neville Craven (Dennis Murry), Martha (Tori Kientz), Dickon (Chris Celestin), Mrs. Medlock (Erika Maruri) Ben Weatherstaff (Duane P. Maracin), Lily Craven (Michelle Harwell), Rose Lennox (Kate Barba) and Albert Lennox (Marc Bonham).
Murry is also an assistant director. Virgil Toothaker is the set engineer/master carpenter and Diana Erickson is the set designer.
“This light opera has hardly ever been done, if at all, by non-professional theater companies in the Sacramento region,” Baum-Davis said.
Baum-Davis credits the stage hands’ creativity in making the “garden” grow in most of the scenes.
She also credits Grace Hegy for working with the young actors and actresses and the rest of the cast.
The actors “are continuing to blossom, show emotional growth, sing wonderfully and are amazing me every night during rehearsals,” Baum-Davis said. “What more could a director want?”
“The Secret Garden” opens Friday, Sept 7 at 7 p.m., and will run to Sunday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. at the theater located on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville.
Visit imagination-theater.org for all dates and times for all showings.
To purchase tickets contact Imagine Theater at 530-642-0404 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or email@example.com. Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.