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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden'The Secret Garden' coming to McLeod Theater.

A “Secret Garden” grows on the McLeod Theater stage at Southern Illinois University Carbondale April 16-19.

The Department of Theater and the School of Music join forces to bring the Frances Hodgson Burnett story of redemption, inner healing and the power of a positive mindset for four performances. Thursday through Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s performance is a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $6 for students. Tickets are available the day of the performance at the McLeod Theater Box Office or in advance by calling 618/453-3001.

Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote “The Secret Garden” 100 years ago. The original Broadway production debuted in 1991 and ran for 709 shows, and won three Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Scenic Design.

This production features sets by guest artist Laurencio Carlos Ruiz, costumes by Kathryn Wagner, and lighting by Mark Varns. The production elements come together to keep the visual and story-telling elements in constant motion.

“The story is about rebirth, life that grows from what is seemingly dead,” J. Thomas Kidd, director and choreographer, said. “We tried to capture that in the production. We wanted to see the production grow.”

The inspirational story focuses on young Mary Lennox, an orphaned girl sent to live with her widowed uncle. Mary discovers a neglected and locked secret garden, formerly kept by her uncle’s deceased wife, Lily. Mary sets out to restore and bring new life to the garden and the household. Her efforts and the story of her uncle Archibald’s release from the past touch anyone who has ever known loss or disappointment.

Ellen Conn, dramaturge for “The Secret Garden,” and her assistant, Jenna Brown, offer a free pre-show lecture on April 19 beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Dean’s Conference Room, adjacent to the McLeod Theater lobby. They will discuss the “three promises” playwright Marsha Norman believes are central to the play.

The production features University students and some younger actors from the community. Taking the lead role of Mary Lennox is 15-year-old Skylar C. Drummond, a freshman at Johnston City High School. Carbondale sixth-grader Isaiah Herzog plays Mary’s sickly cousin Colin Craven.

Here is a complete cast list, by hometown:


• Bloomington -- Erik Lehmkuhl, freshman in musical theater, as Lt. Wright

• Carbondale -- Jonathan Hughes, senior in theater, as Dickon Sowerby; Isaiah David Herzog, sixth-grade student at Unity Point Elementary School, as Colin Craven.

• Carterville -- Travis Westbrook, senior in musical theater, as Timothy/Servant

• Collinsville -- Katelyn Ratliff, freshman in musical theater, as the Maid

• Edwardsville -- Jason Miller, junior in theater, as Ben Weatherstaff

• Hawthorne Woods -- Peter Chudyba, senior music major, as Uncle Albert Lennox

• Johnston City -- Skylar C. Drummond, freshman at Johnston City High School, as Mary Lennox

• Manteno -- Sabreena Cardreva, freshman theater and English education major, as Ayah

• Marion -- Callie Meiners, junior in theater, as Mr. Medlock

• Mundelein -- Mike Johnston, junior in theater, as Shelley/Servant

• Murphysboro -- Timothy Jackson Wessel, freshman in musical theater, as Lt. Shaw

• Park Ridge -- Rob Riddle, graduate student in opera, as Neville Craven

• Pinckneyville -- Stacie McDaniel, a junior in theater, as Mrs. Shelley

• Princeton -- Emily Smith, senior in musical theater, as Claire Holmes

• Quincy -- Steve Looten, Jr., senior in theater, as Major Holmes


• Wilmore -- Carl Herzog, sophomore in vocal performance and theater, as Fakir


• Little Falls -- Danna Pantzke, graduate student in music, as Martha Sowerby


• St. Louis -- Casey Levan, senior in musical theater, as Betsy

North Carolina

• Wendell -- Landon Chase Sutton, graduate student in opera, as Archibald Craven

South Carolina

• Irmo -- Leigh Ann Murdaugh, graduate student in opera, as Lily Craven


• Pittsburgh -- Karen Massey, graduate student in opera, as Alice/Mrs. Winthrope


• Lethbridge, Alberta -- Andrea Gedrasik, graduate student in opera, as Rose Lennox

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