‘The Secret Garden’ overcomes difficulties



Cleo Egnal, cub writer

The spring musical is one of the most challenging productions for the Performing Arts Dept., and the school is undertaking an arduous task with this year’s production of “The Secret Garden”.  Actors and crewmembers must work incredibly hard to pull off this show, even if it means staying after school every day and coming to school on Saturdays to rehearse.The script of “The Secret Garden”, director Herb Hall’s top choice for this year’s musical, includes 37 locations and is a singing and acting-heavy production.  There are no scene changes or blackouts, which makes it difficult to go from location to location, according to Hall.  Since there is no crew that will be on stage during the production to change the set pieces, the responsibility lies on cast members.“It’s all on the actors,” Hall explained.  “There’s no trick.”The actors are not alone in their responsibilities behind the scenes, however.  Certain crewmembers, called techies, work to build the set beginning seventh period and only ending long after school is over.“[How long we stay after school] increases as it gets closer to the show,” junior Allison Rishwain said.  “The first week we stayed until five, and now we are here until seven at night.”Rishwain, who sometimes works during lunch and on the weekends, is also in the show.  She has a lot on her plate, which can be difficult.“My school work suffers,” she said.  “I do my work at lunch, before school, whenever I have downtime.”Senior Leah Weissbuch shares this concern.  Weissbuch plays Mary Lennox, one of the lead characters in “The Secret Garden”.I come home more exhausted than I ever have been in my life,” she exclaimed.  Weissbuch attends vocal and dance rehearsals once a week, acting rehearsals three times a week, and even met with Hall and vocal director Joel Pressman during winter break.
Putting it together
The show presents many difficulties, and requires long hours and dedication in order to get everything perfect.  In addition to the 37 locations the story takes place in, techies must figure out lighting cues and how to shift certain set pieces.

“We’re building [the sets] and lots of flies,” Rishwain said.  A fly is a set piece that literally flies in and out of the scene.  It is attached to a pole that rises to the ceiling of the stage, and is lowered down by students pulling ropes behind the curtain.
A fly from "The Secret Garden"
A fly from “The Secret Garden”

In addition to the difficulty of the show’s technical demands, there are time constraints put on the theatre department to put on the production.“Our schedule is dictated by spring break and other activities, [which] makes it difficult,” Hall explained.
While the techies spend hours building the set and configuring lighting and sound, the actors work hard on the on stage aspect of the show.  The actors need to “learn music and develop realistic characters,” according to Hall.
Along with spending Saturdays at dance rehearsal and lunch at vocal rehearsal, the actors must also learn to speak in a standard British accent, and some in a Yorkshire accent.  In addition to having a dialect coach, the actors are monitored during rehearsals as well as in the halls around the theatre building to make sure they do not drop the accents.
This character development is Hall’s favorite part of the production process.  He enjoys “working with actors to create real characters,” and he is making sure that his students are portraying believable and relatable characters on stage.
Hall has high hopes for the show, and hopes that the audience will leave the performance feeling positive and inspired.
“There’s a really nice message about love and compassion,” Hall said about the musical.
Weissbuch reiterates Hall’s sentiments about the show’s message.  “I hope that [the audience] gets the message to embrace life,” she said.
The curtain will rise on “The Secret Garden” beginning Thurs., March 21 at 8:00 p.m. through March 23 in the auditorium.  Tickets are available online and will be sold at lunch on the front lawn.