Framingham’s Amazing Things Arts Center presents the well-loved musical The Secret Garden, by composer Lucy Simon and playwright Marsha Norman, February 10-19. Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel, it tells the story of 11-year-old Mary Lennox, who is forced to go from India to Yorkshire to live with her uncle and his son. Mary resents her new life until she discovers the secret garden and learns how to tend it. The musical is sure to warm hearts during the cold winter months with its themes of forgiveness, love, and renewal.
Many local actors and actresses perform in The Secret Garden, including four Framingham residents: Joel Hersh plays gardener Ben Weatherstaff, jon Baril plays Major Holmes, Eric Dwinnells plays Major Albert Lennox, and Sharon Kivnik plays Mrs. Medlock. Laura Chandler, who works at Meditech in Framingham, plays Martha. Other area residents are working on costumes, set, and other tasks for this major production.
Joel, who works at TJX companies, will be retiring soon and hopes to devote more time to theater. Joel started performing in theater in high school and was a theater major at UMass Amherst. “I am lucky and blessed to have been in 2 EMACT/DASH Best Musicals in the past three years - Needham Community Theatre's Titanic 2008/2009 and this year's Ragtime by Emerson Umbrella,” he says. He enjoyed playing Mordechai Weiss in A Shayna Maidel at The Hovey Players and particularly enjoys performing in Stephen Sondheim musicals. Joel was excited to participate in The Secret Garden because of the quality of the productions he has seen at Amazing Things. He has enjoyed meeting the warm and talented people involved in the production. Joel encourages people to come to The Secret Garden: “It is a beautiful, family-friendly story presented by a talented ensemble.”
jon works at the Framingham public library. He has been involved in theater since high school and has a degree in musical theater from Emerson College. He recently appeared in Curtains, And Then There Were None, and Framingham Community Theater Dinner Theater. jon disliked the book The Secret Garden as a child and didn’t like the various screen versions of it. However, he likes this version very much – he thinks that Lucy Simon’s music is “lovely” and adds, “I’ve wanted to do the show for some time because of its score, and could not pass up an opportunity to do it locally.”
Eric Dwinnells, who runs a day program for adults with autism, wanted to be in the show because he’s always enjoyed the music and knew others who were involved. People will love the show because of the strong cast. (And it's important to support local theater!) Eric has been involved with theater for at least twenty years. His love for theater was fostered by his high school theater teacher, Donna Wresinski, who now teaches at Framingham High. After high school he studied at The Boston Conservatory and eventually opened his own theater company, Loki Arts. He’s been especially active in theater recently: Secret Garden is his sixth show since April 2011. A recent favorite role was “Woof” in Hair with Arlington Friends of the Drama. He says, “The freedom the director gave us to play is what made the production so much fun. Plus, I usually play villains so it was great to get a chance to play a psychedelic teddy bear.”
The Amazing Things Arts Center (160 Hollis St./Rt. 126, Framingham) presents The Secret Garden on February 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 8PM, and on February 12 and 19 at 2PM. Admission is $18, $17 for students and seniors, $15 for members, and $9 for children under 12. To buy tickets and get directions, go to www.amazingthings.org or call 508-405-ARTS (2787). Directed by Chip Sheeran; music direction by Jeff Kimball; choreography by Elizabeth Sheeran; produced by Susan Lanspery.