It was the music that drew director Lynne Leydier to The Secret Garden.
Although she’d read the book years before and saw the musical, it wasn’t until she was looking through some of her music that she settled on the ambitious and heartwarming play for this year’s production which takes place at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.
“I was trying to think about what I wanted to do and I always spend some time going through my music … I was going through my books and I, you know, I try music out and when I played through the score of this musical I went, ‘Wow. I forgot how good this music is.’ And it moved me and I went, ‘This is incredible, I have to do this show.’ Once I got the music in my bones it was pretty much easy after that,” she said.
The Secret Garden musical is based on the children’s novel of the same name written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
The story set in the early 1900s follows the life of a young girl named Mary Lennox when she returns to England after her parents die while living in India. The orphan must live with her reclusive uncle and his invalid son, Colin, at Misselthwaite Manor. The estates wonders include a magic garden. With the help of a new friend the magic and adventure locked inside the garden are released changing everyone’s lives forever.
“It’s a spectacle. We have everything in here and I mean not that people always need spectacle, but I think that the level of this story is very deep,” Leydier said. “The ensemble singing, 40 people, our powerhouse. We have a full orchestra. We have incredible costumes … We have a quality for this town that is really, really amazing. I’m proud of the cast. There’s some newcomers this year. You just don’t see this kind of stuff done and I’m really excited to bring it to Penticton.”
Although large with a 40-person cast, this production is smaller than some of the other shows Soundstage Productions has put on in the past including Les Miserables and Sweeney Todd.
This is Maya Lefebvre’s fourth show with Soundstage Productions and her first as a lead. The 11-year-old is cast as the main character Mary Lennox.
Lefebvre is a student of Leydier’s and was a perfect fit for the role.
In addition to acting she also studies ballet and piano. The busy young girl said she isn’t nervous, but rather excited to perform in front of an audience later this month.
“I like being challenged and I like working with Lynne. I like singing and learning all the lines and getting the choreography,” she said.
Another young person on the stage is Andreas Nordlund who plays Colin Craven, Mary’s crippled cousin.
Nordlund has performed in several other musicals and productions in Penticton including Soundstage Production’s Broadway Musical last year and A Christmas Carol done by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in December.
“It’s fun, but kind of stressful,” Nordlund said of being a lead character.
“I really like how Colin transforms from a mean kid to a nice kid.”
Although neither Lefebvre or Nordlund plan to pursue acting as a full-time career, they both hope to keep it as a hobby into their adulthood.
Derek Beaton, who plays Archibald Craven (Mary’s uncle) understands where his child actor counterparts are coming from. The retired civil servant moved to Summerland three years ago from Edmonton and this is his first production in the Okanagan.
The talented singer spent 25 seasons singing in the Edmonton Opera chorus. After arriving in Penticton he started taking voice lessons with hopes of performing on the stage.
“It’s a very different sound, so I’ve spent a lot of time working on my voice here,” he said.
Tickets are on sale for the show, which debuts Jan. 24 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. The show runs from Jan. 24 to 26 at 7 p.m. and a special matinee is set for Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $45 available at the Lakeside.