Locals star in production of 'Secret Garden'

If you're looking for a short trip for a family outing, why not try the theater?

You don't have to travel far for a good show. The Jordan-Elbridge Community Theater group, with funding from the town of Elbridge, will present "The Secret Garden" next weekend at Jordan-Elbridge High School.

"People are looking for entertainment a little closer to home," said director Drew Deapo of Liverpool. "This is something a little different, something for the whole family. This puts J-E on the map."

The Jordan-Elbridge Community Theater group got its start last year, Deapo said, when several alums of J-E's musical theater program got together and began talking about returning to the stage.

"A bunch of other teachers and I were talking over dinner, and someone said, 'Hey, wouldn't it be great '" Deapo said. "It kind of snowballed from there. Last year we did 'Titanic,' and it was amazing."

In addition to several J-E teachers, including Deapo, who teaches sixth grade at the district's middle school, the production includes five or six recent J-E grads eager to return to the stage they once called home.

"We've got an incredibly talented group of people involved in this production," Deapo said. "Great experience, great vocals -- it's going to be a great show."

Though most of the performers are over 18, the two leads, Julia Goodwin and Nicholas Deapo, are children. Both said they, too, anticipate a good show.

"This is an awesome play," Goodwin said. "I've been in a lot of plays, but I really like this one."

Nicholas Deapo agreed.

"It's a really great show for kids," he said. "There's a lot going on -- a lot of singing and dancing. You won't be bored."

Based on the children's book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden is the story of Mary Lennox (played by 10-year-old Julia Goodwin of Baldwinsville), a young and lonely English girl orphaned by a cholera epidemic in India. She is sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Tallon Larham of Liverpool) and his brother Dr. Neville Craven (Colin Keating of Liverpool, who is the vocal director for Baldwinsville schools), in Yorkshire, England. Archibald is still grieving the loss of his wife, Lily (Amy Pearson of Liverpool), who died 10 years earlier in childbirth, and is distraught over the condition of his bedridden son, Colin (9-year-old Nicholas Deapo of Liverpool). The mood in the manor is dark until Mary discovers a secret garden that once belonged to Lily. Aided by her young maid Martha (Joanna Brehaut of Elbridge), Martha's mystical brother Dickon (Jake Hare of Elbridge), and a chorus of spirits and ghosts from her past, Mary unlocks the secrets of the hidden garden and releases the magic and adventures locked inside. By nursing the garden back to life, Mary also restores life to her grieving uncle and his sick son. The cast also includes Mary's parents Rose (Denise Deapo of Liverpool) and Albert (Jim Ryan of Auburn), Mary's Indian servants Ayah (Rachel Lopez of Memphis) and Fakir (Dan Williams of Weedsport), Housekeeper Mrs. Medlock (Becky O'Hara of Elbridge), and the ghosts and spirits of Mary's past: Bridget Moriarty of Mattydale, Eli Grauman of Jordan, Andrea Love of Syracuse, Alex Kline of Jordan, Diane Crowley of Jordan, Steve Tarnow of Baldwinsville, Shauna Burke of Moravia, Matt Weatherstone of Jordan, Jillian Kline of Jordan, Ryan Hare of Elbridge, Sarah Hunter of Elbridge and Zac Darling of Jordan. The score for the musical was written by Lucy Simon, its story adapted for the stage by Tony Award-winning Marsha Norman.

Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday Aug. 1 and Saturday Aug. 2 in the Jordan-Elbridge High School Auditorium, 5721 Hamilton Road, Jordan. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door, by calling 689-8500 ext.1700 or by visiting jectheatre.org.

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