Finally, after many months of hard work, dedication, and perseverance by cast, faculty, and crew, Missouri State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to announce their Command Stream performance of The Secret Garden!
This classic musical, based off the 1911 novel of the same name by Francis Hodgson Burnett, tells the story of Mary Lennox, a young English girl orphaned by a cholera outbreak. She was raised in India, but is sent to Yorkshire, England to live with her grieving uncle Archibald Craven in an old Victorian mansion. She soon meets an intriguing and mystery-filled cast of characters including Dr. Neville Craven, Mrs. Medlock, Dickon, Colin, and ghosts from the past known as ‘Dreamers.’ What are Dr. Craven’s true intentions for his brother? Why is Colin hidden away? Is there really a secret garden, and what mysteries does it hold for Mary? While we can’t give you all the answers here, we can give a sneak-peek behind the scenes into how this show has blossomed to life.
First, we emailed T&D faculty member and The Secret Garden Director, Robert Westenberg, to ask him about his experiences having been the original Dr. Neville Craven for its Broadway debut.
“It was a truly wonderful journey from the very beginning. I think we all realized that we were privileged to be a part of something truly magical and that the show would become a classic. My favorite memory is the speech Daisy Egan gave at the Tonys when she accepted the award as Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. She was all of 12 years old, and it is one of the most engaging, moving speeches I have ever seen. Please Google it, and I think you might agree. We were all weeping backstage.”
In response to what it was like going from a cast member to the director, he shared that this was actually his second time directing it and that he still discovers new elements each time. “The source material is utterly brilliant and, even though the musical has some significant departures, it is still extremely faithful to the core spirit of the novel.”
We also asked leading lady Brooke Verbois, playing Mary Lennox, how she would describe the show and what this experience has been like for her. She said, “This show is stunning. It’s a wonderful story about love, human connection, and growth.” She shared that the experience has been “unlike anything [I’ve] done before. Because we’ve been with these characters for so long, I feel we’ve all grown with them. Everyone was perfect for their roles, and somehow the time apart made everything even stronger.” Brooke hopes that “the audience can see Mary’s journey as a story of hope. Even in times when we feel completely alone in the world, there are those who love us and want to help us through the dark times.”
On to a more technical side, Assistant Scenic Designer Riley Lathrom, shared with us what she was most excited for about the show and design challenges presented in the script. She said, “I am most excited for this show to be released in the film format and the designers, technicians, and actors getting recognition for their months and months of hard work.” Her and the design team’s main challenge was simply doing everything they could in these unprecedented times. “Thankfully, this department is filled with fantastic people who are professionals at adapting and problem-solving to make this show possible in a time where we didn’t think theatre was possible.”
Performances for The Secret Garden will be streamed Tuesday, September 15th through Friday, September 18th. All performances will start streaming at 7:30pm and will require access through the instructions provided on purchased tickets for their designated dates and times. Tickets for the Command Stream performances of The Secret Garden will be available online Friday, September 11th at 4:00pm. Click the link here https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/39150 to purchase yours.
“Every time I work on the show again, it gives me hope.”
– Director Robert Westenberg