Most people know the heartwarming and timeless story of the Secret Garden, whether it be musical, book or movie. This show has been on the to-do list for many people in the theatre community for quite some time, and the chance to be a part of the production is finally here, as Portsmouth Little Theatre brings the classical musical to life with a strong cast and what is said to be the most beautiful noise to come off the PLT stage for quite some time.
Michael Stapleton, director and PLT board member, was the driving force in choosing “The Secret Garden” as this season’s musical. As soon as Stapleton learned that West High School vocal music instructor, Linda Tieman, wanted to be a part of this show, he knew that it was time to put on the show that he had fallen in love with as a young boy.
“I learned of death at an early age with the passing of my grandfather. I knew I should feel sad, because everyone around me was mourning, but death at that time was still a very abstract to me as a child,” Stapleton explained. “My grandmother gave me the novel, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett to help me understand death and renewal through another child’s eyes. Needless to say, I fell in love with the novel and the central characters. I was fascinated how they all dealt with loss differently, but their healing process, although different, came to the same conclusion. That began my fascination with The Secret Garden.”
The story is known for complicated music and a deep story line. It’s one of those shows that requires a network of talented and experienced people to pull off correctly, with the level of excellence the story deserves. Stapleton is confident in the casting and the people involved to bring the show to life.
“Linda Tieman breathes life into every musical piece she tackles. She is truly a gem in our community that could never be replaced. Additionally, I have never had a cast so dedicated, enthusiastic, and technically proficient in their skills from my youngest to oldest actor. Everyone has come together as team, they help one another with difficult parts, and we all seem to have this genuine care for one another.”
Stapleton knew the show would be complicated to cast, especially since he had such a personal connection with the story. He took the decision to openly precast the show to ensure that it would become all that he wanted it to be. The process is typically frowned upon, but considering the show is so well-casted, Stapleton feels like the decision was made in good judgment.
The casting began with the leading character, Mary, who will be played by Ivy Idzakovich. Once Ivy was chosen for the role, Stapleton knew he had to get her older sister, Macy Idzakovich, back in Portsmouth to portray the character Lily, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the younger Mary. Every character after that just fell together perfectly with many of PLT’s most talented veterans. This is one show that has been carefully orchestrated to really display what the Portsmouth area is capable of.
Macy Idzakovich, 24, moved to New York City in 2007 to pursue her acting career. Since then, she has appeared on “Law and Order” on several occasions, has appeared on HBO’s “Boadwalk Empire” and was cast in an Off-Broadway production of “The Pajama Games.” Idzakovich is currently enrolled in the graduate program at Mannes College The New School For Music, where she is heavily focusing on vocal training and furthering her education.
“My character is Lily, a deceased mother and wife. She is a woman who is stuck in between a life that she had and the afterlife. She is still in the picture even though no one can physically see her, but they can sense her presence,” Macy said. “I really like how the show is written, because she sings in duets and trios with other characters and it is just beautiful how they intertwine the lives of the living characters and the deceased.”
Macy has appeared on the stage with her younger sister, Ivy, in the past, but she is excited to be a part of a show in which Ivy is older and can have a larger role in the production.
“I’m so excited. I love Ivy. I think Ivy is very talented too, and this is the first time she is old enough that she can totally participate. She was five or six when we last appeared in a show together and it is really nice to have her in a very substantial role this time around.”
“The Secret Garden” is giving Macy not only a second chance to work with her younger sister again, but with Linda Tieman, her high school music teacher that was a huge inspiration to her in her younger years.
“I am so very thrilled to work with both Mr. and Mrs. Tieman again. I’m very ecstatic. You know, you never know what life might bring and who you will get to work with again, and it is always a blessing when you get to work with people who really helped make you who are today.”
Even with a busy life in New York, getting to perform in Portsmouth brings a warm feeling for Macy, “I am so excited that Michael and Jason gave me this opportunity to work in the community that I grew up in and I hope everyone comes out to support what we are doing and I think they’ll love it. Everything from the music to the lyrics to the books, it really is a stunning show.”
Ivy Idzakovich, 12, has been in over 40 productions and appeared in the MTI pilot musicals of Shrek Jr. and Legally Blonde Jr. in New York City over the summer. She is set to participate in two more this following summer, but no comment could be made at this time concerning titles. Ivy was also requested to audition for a Broadway show, which will take place next week, but once again, could make no comment just yet.
“I think my part is really fun, because I get to use a British accent when playing a very sour, mean, young girl. I’m very glad I get to play her,” Ivy said. “It’s really fun to have tantrums on stage and I even get stage-smacked. Mary is the complete opposite of what I usually get to play and it is a lot of fun.”
Jason Chaney, PLT President and veteran, will be playing the mysterious role of Uncle Archibald, a hunchback that owns the estate Mary now lives on after being made an orphan.
“This character has always been on my bucket list and I’m really happy to get to check it off,” Chaney Said. “It’s a really great character to get to play, because he has this really great character arc where he is depressed and eventually is able to let go and embrace his niece and son. I also just absolutely love the musical numbers he has in the show. The music in general is just phenomenal. Even the chorus numbers in the show. I’ve never heard this sound come from this stage before, and I am really excited for that to happen.”
Portsmouth Little Theatre unlocks the gates to “The Secret Garden” this March 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 and 10 at 2 p.m. The show is rated G and is guaranteed to offer a magical night for the entire family to enjoy, with a talented cast and good story line. General admission is $15 and student and senior admission is $12.