Sean G. Griffin, Sharia Pierce, and Hans Altweis. Photo by Chris Bennion. (Seattle, WA)-Seattle Children's Theatre's (SCT) will produce the United States premiere of Michael Shamata and Paula Wing's The Secret Garden for its 30th anniversary holiday production. Based on the classic 1910 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this heartwarming story will come to life on SCT's Charlotte Martin Theatre stage November 19 through January 8, 2005. 

"Michael Shamata and I came to The Secret Garden in our thirties, not as new, wide-eyed readers, but as adaptors," said Wing. "We entered the fabled world of this book with no preconceptions, no fond memories from childhood, no certainties. We very quickly surrendered to the spell cast by Misselthwaite Manor, its inhabitants, and of course, the sourest child anyone had ever seen. We have re-written the play for this, its U.S. premiere, and we thank Linda Hartzell, SCT and this remarkable company and creative team for giving us a chance to revisit this tender, hopeful world so beloved by generations of young readers." 

With direction by SCT Artistic Associate Rita Giomi, The Secret Garden takes place in 1907 England and revolves around the 10-year-old orphan Mary Lennox, a quick-tempered girl who comes to live with her uncle in his lonely old manor. In the course of her stay, Mary discovers her fretful, bedridden cousin, Colin, and the mysteries of a locked garden. With special care, this secret garden blossoms along with Mary's emotional rejuvenation and Colin's physical recovery, showing us the healing power of nature and companionship. 

Public performances of The Secret Garden run Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 and 5:30 p.m. Seattle Children's Theatre is located at 201 Thomas Street at Seattle Center. Tickets range in price from $14 to $28 and are available by calling the SCT Ticket Office at (206) 441-3322 or by visiting SCT's website at The Secret Garden is recommended for ages eight and older. 

"The Secret Garden has outstanding dialogue, wonderful adventure and a hauntingly mysterious tone offered by the talented Paula Wing and Michael Shamata," said Hartzell. "There are many adaptations of this book, but I feel this one is exceptional." 

The adaptation by Wing and Shamata was commissioned by Theatre New Brunswick, in Eastern Canada, and toured the province of New Brunswick in the winter of 1993. It then went on to productions at the Stephenville Festival in Newfoundland and at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Seattle marks its first international and western 

Canadian writer/director Shamata was artistic director of Theatre New Brunswick from 1990 to 1995 and the Grand Theatre in London from 1995 to 1999. He has worked in most regional theatres across Canada and has adapted several works to the stage including Wind in the Willows, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol and, with Paula Wing, The 
Secret Garden and Dracula. 

Wing is an actress and playwright based in Toronto whose work has been seen across Canada and internationally. For Seattle Children's Theatre, she adapted the 1999 world-premiere production of The King of Ireland's Son and the 1995 U.S. premiere of Naomi's Road, both of which were well received. 

After the tragedy of losing both of her parents to a cholera epidemic in India, Mary Lennox is sent to live with her uncle, a man she's never met, in England, a place she's never been. Mr. Craven is not looking forward to having his new charge around any more than she is looking forward to being there. Mr. Craven has the servants make ready for the girl's arrival-she is to be neither seen nor heard by the master. 

Full of sass and spirit from a pampered upbringing, Mary is not fast to make friends. In an attempt to bolster her health, Mary spends much of her time outside with the gardener, Ben. Mary soon hears of the special garden Mr. Craven and his late wife shared-a garden full of lush and fragrant flowers that had been concealed, left to wither for years. 

Being of resolute temperament, Mary vows to find this hidden garden for herself. Her curiosity is also peaked by another mystery-the crying she hears from another wing of the house that no one will explain to her. Meanwhile, her new friend, Dickon, brings Mary the supplies needed to plant her own garden, which she is determined to do behind the wall in the secret garden. Things may be looking up outside but they seem to be growing worse for the crying child, so Mary goes in search of whoever is weeping and finds Colin, Mr. Craven's bedridden son. Mary discovers that Colin isn't really that ill at all, if only he will agree to go outside and reap the benefits of the fresh air, surely his condition will improve. When finally Colin agrees, Dickon and Mary have a surprise for everyone; the secret garden is open and in bloom again. 

The magic, beauty and love that built the garden heal all their hearts. 

The Secret Garden cast features Hans Altwies as Dickon Sowerby, Julie Briskman as Mrs. Medlock, Tim Gouran as Colin Craven, Sean G. Griffin as Ben Weatherstaff, Sharia Pierce as Mary Lennox, David Pichette as Archibald Craven, Morgan Rowe as Martha Sowerby, and Brandon Whitehead as Dr. Pitcher. Susan McIntyre and Galen Joseph Osier are the understudies. 

The artistic team includes Matthew Smucker as scenic designer, Deb Trout as costume designer, Rick Paulsen as lighting designer, Chris R. Walker as composer/sound designer, Jenny Adams as assistant director, Douglas N. Paasch as puppet designer, and Michael J. Loggins as dialect coach. 

A limited amount of $10 rush tickets will be available Friday nights at the ticket office, located at 201 Thomas Street in Seattle. There will be an American Sign Language interpreted performance of The Secret Garden for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons on Saturday, December 11, at 2 p.m. For more information, call (206) 441-3322, voice, or 
(206) 443-6938, TTY. 

Seattle Children's Theatre would like to thank season sponsor Microsoft, season education sponsor Washington Mutual, and show sponsor Dorsey and Whitney LLP. 

Now celebrating its 30th Anniversary Season, Seattle Children's Theatre performs September through June in the Charlotte Martin and Eve Alvord Theatres at Seattle Center. The second largest children's theatre in the nation, Seattle Children's Theatre is a leading producer of theatre, education programs and new scripts for young people. Since its inception, SCT has presented 167 plays, 83 of which have been world premieres, and entertained over 4 million children.


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