‘Garden’ cultivates young talent

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    By SARALEE HUNTSMAN

    The Villa Playhouse Theatre’s “The Secret Garden” warmed the hearts of the audience Monday evening.

    VPT’s production has brought together some impressive young talent in the roles of Mary, Colin and Dicken.

    “The Secret Garden” is about a little girl named Mary, who, after her parents die in India, is placed in her Uncle Archibald’s home as an orphan. Mary reminds Archibald of his deceased wife and he is afraid to get close to her.

    Mary soon discovers her cousin, Colin, who has been put away because he and the household believes he is terminally ill. As Mary and Colin become good friends, Colin is healed through their friendship and the secret garden that Mary discovers.

    “It has a good message about life and death — of how to hold onto both and how to live and keep those who have passed on living through you,” said Kathryn Hansen, a freshman modern dance theater major from Mountain Green.

    Annalece Boothe, 10, who played the part of Mary, did an exceptional job for such a young age. Her voice was beautiful and powerful. Boothe also played the role of Annie at VPT last year.

    “I thought Annie and Mary were always the biggest little girl parts that I could ever do,” Boothe said.

    Adam Steele, 9, played the perfect Colin. Steele did a good job maintaining his English accent throughout the play.

    The music from “The Secret Garden” was delightful and was sung by a talented cast. Songs such as “Lily’s Eyes,” “Hold On” and “How Could I Ever Know” may be familiar to students.

    Timothy Merrill, who played Archibald, sang with energy and feeling.

    “I had heard the music before and I fell in love with it immediately,” Merrill said. “I knew when they were auditioning for Secret Garden, I had to have a part in it.”

    Producer Marilyn Brown said they double cast the whole show so that Merrill could participate.

    “We just saw a talent and we wanted to show him off,” Brown said.

    Hansen assumed the role of the caring chamber maid, Martha. Hansen delivered a well-rehearsed Cornish accent. Hansen said she had help from a BYU dialect teacher and listened to a tape of another Martha over and over again.

    “It’s the type of dialect that once you get the pattern, it just clicks,” Hansen said.

    The cast members said they loved working with each other.

    “All of the cast members have this excitement and spark about them that has pulled everybody together,” Hansen said. “There are a lot of kind, generous people in the cast — we have all connected.”

    The stage set designed by Michael Drew was beautiful and simple, allowing for different rooms in the house to easily come together with just a few props. Drew had to spend many hours working on the set as well as rehearsing for his role in the musical.

    Bradin Wilhelmsen, who played Dicken, had been in “The Secret Garden” before as Colin and said he wanted to do the play again because it was so good.

    “The Secret Garden is powerful — it gets you to feel what the characters are feeling,” Wilhelmsen said.

    “The Secret Garden” is playing now through March 22 at the Villa Playhouse Theater, 254 South Main in Springville. Performances are Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on March 22 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $8 for general public, $7 for students and $5 for children under 12. Call 489-3088 for tickets and more information.

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