FREMONT - Explore "The Secret Garden" when Fremont Community Theatre presents this production by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman, with music by Lucy Simon, this weekend.
The classic children's story is based on the 1911 children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
A cholera epidemic ravages an Imperial British military base in India, leaving spoiled 11-year-old Mary Lennox orphaned. She is sent to the haunted moors of northern Yorkshire, England, to live on the manor estate of her hunch-backed uncle, Archibald, and handicapped cousin, Colin.
PHOTO BY MARYANN KROMER
Phoebe Jackson (right) and Aaron Chavez are cast as Mary Lennox and Colin Craven, respectively, in “The Secret Garden.”
The lead role of Mary Lennox is double-cast with Phoebe Jackson, a fourth-grader from Elmore, and Kayla Hunter, a sixth-grade student at St. Wendelin in Fostoria.
Kayla's dad, Dave Hunter, has the role of Lt. Wright. The large cast also includes residents of Fremont, Bellevue, Clyde, Gibsonburg, Rossford, Sandusky, Woodmore and Woodville.
As the curtain rises, Mary is playing happily at her home on a British military base in India. A party is in progress when the guests are stricken with illness.
If you go
Due to technical difficulties, there will not be a performance Friday. The opening performances of "The Secret Garden" are to be 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Performances continue at 8 p.m. May 11, a bonus matinee at 2 p.m. May 12 at 2 p.m.; 8 p.m. May 12, 18 and 19; and 2 p.m. May 13 and May 20.
As the deadly scene is told in choreography, a red kerchief appears in the hand of each stricken character.
Mary has troubling dreams and wakes to find herself an orphan. The ghosts of people she has lost appear at various times throughout the play when Mary recalls childhood episodes.
Mary is ushered out of Bombay to England. Her reclusive uncle refuses to meet Mary when she arrives. Archibald still is grieving over the loss of his wife, Lily, who died in childbirth the same year Mary was born.
Having lost her parents and her familiar surroundings, Mary now must find a way to bring herself out of her grief. Her aloof uncle, his brother, Neville Craven, and the stern housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock, do little to comfort her.
Martha, the chambermaid, is the first person to show kindness to Mary, even though the girl treats the woman rudely.
During the first night at the manor, Archibald and Mary hear crying in the halls. Lily's ghost appears from behind a life-sized portrait. The next day, Mary is sent outdoors to explore the estate.
While roaming about the formal gardens, she meets the head gardener, Ben, and Martha's brother, Dickon. She learns about a walled garden whose gate has been locked since Lily's death.
Eventually, Mary comes face to face with her uncle, and they converse in a formal manner.
Mary asks Archibald for "a bit of earth" to raise her own garden. The request reminds the two brothers of how much Mary resembles Lily.
The audience learns Neville also was in love with Lily.
During a spring storm, the ghosts return and the crying begins again. Although Archibald has warned Mary to avoid certain parts of the mansion, she gets up in the night to find the source of the cries. She stumbles upon the room of Colin, a sickly young man about her age.
Aaron Chavez of Fremont, a fourth-grader in Fremont, portrays Colin.
At first, they argue, then realize they are cousins meeting for the first time. When Neville and Mrs. Medlock discover Mary in Colin's room, they rush in to pull her away.
As the story progresses, Mary gains access to the the key for the garden door and finds it, covered in ivy vines.
The plantings there have been neglected, but she and Dickon are able to nurture the flora back to life.
After Archibald departs for a trip to Europe, Colin is brought into the garden, and his health improves.
Mary writes an emotional letter to Archibald, asking him to return home. When he does arrive, he witnesses his once-crippled Colin running to meet him.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. For reservations, call (419) 332-0695.