East Providence’s Martin Middle School raises curtain on annual spring show

Actors John Voll (left) and Taliq Tillman rehearse a scene for The Secret Garden. Actors John Voll (left) and Taliq Tillman rehearse a scene for The Secret Garden.

EAST PROVIDENCE — The Martin Theatre Company’s annual spring production for 2013 will be a stage adaptation of the early 1900s novel, “The Secret Garden.” It will run for two shows, May 30 and 31.

“The Secret Garden” was penned by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was initially published in serial format starting in the autumn of 1910, and was first printed in book form a year later. It has become one of Ms. Burnett’s most popular books, and is now considered to be a classic of English children’s literature. Several stage and film adaptations of the work have been produced.

The story is set in the early years of the 20th century. The central character is “Mary Lennox,” a young English girl born and raised in what was then called “British Raj” (India). Mary is orphaned at 11 years old when her parents pass in a cholera outbreak. She is sent from India to Yorkshire, England, to live with relatives whom she has never met. Her own personality blossoms as she and a young gardener bring new life to a neglected garden. She helps reinvigorate her sickly cousin and uncle.

The Martin Theatre troop will perform a stage adaptation by Tim Kelly. Music was composed by Lucy Simon for the Broadway production, which premiered in 1991 and ran for 709 performances.

The music is arranged by Nathan Melo for the Martin Theatre Company. Mr. Melo is producing the troop for the first time spring, taking over the reins of the Martin Theatre Company from long-time director Judy DePerla, who retired last year.

The lead roles in the work are:

“Mary Lennox,” an orphaned child sent away from her home in India after her parents fall ill and die of Cholera, she is forced to move to Yorkshire England to live under the care of her uncle Archibald Craven at Misselthwaite Manor. Mary Lennox will be played by Juliet Antonio.

“Dickon,” who is the gardener’s apprentice. Dickon has the ability to talk to animals. Mary soon learns of a garden her aunt Lily had planted. She wants to revive the garden. Mary comes across her cousin, Colin, and learns of his bed-ridden illness. She wants to bring the garden back to life, hoping that it will bring Colin back to health. Colin becomes healed by the garden and begins to walk. John Voll portrays Dickon.

“Archibald Craven,” is Mary’s uncle. In the death and illness of his son, he has become mentally inept and death-like. Archibald Craven will be played by two aspiring actors, Noah Correnti for Thursday, May 30, show and Collin Boggs for the Friday, May 31, performance.

“Dr. Craven,” Archibald’s cousin and Colin’s physician. Jacob Stone portrays Dr. Craven.

“Mrs. Medlock,” the initial and main caretaker of Misselthwaite Manor, the estate owned Archibald Craven. Mrs. Medlock will be played by Emily Pacheco.

Other roles of note include “Colin Craven” by  Taliq Tillman; “Mrs. Sowerby” by Cassandra Santiago and “Martha” by Katie Roslonek.

The Martin Middle School Theatre Company’s production of “The Secret Garden” takes place Thursday and Friday, May 30 and 31, at 7 p.m. each evening in the school auditorium. Doors open at 6:30. Tickets are $5 per person and can be purchased at the door or from cast members. A sign language signer will be available for hearing impaired patrons. Martin Middle School is located on 111 Brown Street. The phone number is 435-7819.

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