Enter ‘The Secret Garden’
With some crafty lighting, costumes from local thrift stores and simple props, Director Doug Adams and his cast of 13 young actors will transform Tahoe-Truckee High School this weekend into a magical place: The Secret Garden.
The Truckee Tahoe Youth Theater group will be performing a summer play for the first time in the organization’s history this Saturday, Aug. 4 with a matinee at 2 p.m. and evening performance at 7 p.m. at TTHS.
“We mind the elegance of simplicity,” said Adams, as the small group rigorously rehearsed in the cramped confines of the Glenshire Elementary School portables on Tuesday evening.
Adams, TTYT Executive Director Jim Sturtevant and former TTHS student Kirsten Benites have been working with the small TTYT summer contingent to put together The Secret Garden.
Faced with the reality of having one month to choose a production, collect costumes, learn lines, rehearse and perform, Doug and his daughter Haley Adams got to work, searching for possible options that would accommodate the youth theater’s resources. Haley came across The Secret Garden, a book by Frances Hodgson Burnett which was later adapted for the big screen.
The play called for 18 cast members and several male parts, but Adams easily adapted the version to fit their small group.
“We have kids playing several roles and girls playing boys. I think they have more fun that way because they have to really get into character,” added Adams.
The version of the play that TTYT is using is also a “kid friendly version” and Adams has encouraged the young actors to form their characters as they see fit.
“What would you be doing during this scene?” he asks, as the kids run through the two act, 16 scene play.
The Secret Garden is a story that centers around young Mary Lennox. She is living in India when her diplomat parents die tragically. Her only relative is her uncle Archibald Craven, who lives in a vast estate in England. Upon her arrival, she is desperately lonely and has virtually no contact with Craven.
At night, she hears crying echoing through the house, though no one will tell her where it is coming from. She forms a bond with Mrs. Sowerby, the maid of the manor and her squadron of children, and begins to learn the secrets of the house. The crying, she learns, is coming from a bedroom in the house where her cousin Colin has closed himself away from the sunshine.
Mary becomes friends with Colin and the two discover a secret garden that was locked up years earlier. Through their rehabilitation of the overgrown garden, Mary and Colin are also reborn, bringing new life to a sad and dismal Misslethwaite Manor.
With only three weeks of practice under their belts, the young thespians were impressively prepared earlier this week during their dress rehearsal. Adams’s minimalist approach to the play also allows for the young stars to shine without the distraction of fancy sets and elaborate costuming.
Tickets for the show are $5 per person and will go to TTYT’s future projects and improvements. The Youth Theater is a local non-profit organization, and functions largely from the generosity of local businesses and theater patrons.
Filled with singing and witty dialogue, the play is a perfect fit for the young actors, who deliver a very professional performance.
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