Less than a week to go until The Barn – a brand-new, 200-seat, state-of-the-art theatre in the Cotswolds – officially opens its doors to the press with its inaugural production of Tony Award-winning family musical The Secret Garden. And leading Broadway director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, who has signed up as one of the theatre’s stellar ambassadors, has a message for the cast. Watch, gen up on the production and company – and start planning your trip to Cirencester!
The opening on Monday (19 March 2018) of the Barn Theatre’s inaugural production of The Secret Garden, based on the 1911 book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, marks the culmination of three years’ renovation and development work at the 200-seat Cirencester theatre. The fresh, actor-musician production, directed by Dominic Shaw, runs starts preview performances on 16 March and continues until Sunday 15 April 2018.
The principal cast features Daniella Piper (as Mary), David Haydn (Archibald Craven), Jaimie Pruden (Lily Craven), Minal Patel (Neville Craven), Celeste De Veazey (Colin Craven), Jenny O Leary (Martha), and Alex James Ellison (Dickon). They’re joined in the ensemble by Sue Appleby, Steffan Rizzi, Jamie Ross, Celia Cruwys Finnigan and Ben Boskovic.
A powerful story about one small orphan girl shining hope into the desolate lives of her new-found relatives. Challenging, moving and inspiring for all ages.
After losing both parents to cholera in India, young Mary Lennox is sent to England to live with her hermit uncle, Archibald Craven. Inside his haunting secluded house, Mary meets his bedridden son, Colin, all alone with his mother’s death on his conscience. Everything changes when Mary decides to revive the beauty of her Aunt Lily’s overgrown secret garden.
This is an inspiring story about how one small girl can turn everything around when she decides she ‘wants things to grow.’ Special effects and puppetry ensure that this story is told in a fresh, innovative and exciting way.
The Secret Garden has script and lyrics are by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman with a score by Lucy Simon. The musical originally premiered on Broadway in 1991, going on to win three Tony Awards.
Director Dominic Shaw commented: “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to direct a new interpretation of The Secret Garden. I plan to completely reimagine the piece and make it more accessible for a contemporary audience. The musical explores themes of love, family and rejuvenation – all themes which draw parallels & seem fitting for the opening of a brand new theatre.”
The Barn’s artistic director Iwan Lewis added: “We are delighted to have The Secret Garden as our first production. Dominic’s fearless approach really chimes with what we’re trying to achieve and we’re delighted to have him on board.”
From Broadway with love
Renowned Broadway director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, who has previously worked with Iwan Lewis and Dominic Shaw in the West End, has signed up as an ambassador for the Barn Theatre. In his 35-year career to date, Mitchell has worked on over 50 Broadway, Off-Broadway, West End and touring productions and received numerous awards and honours, including, most recently a Tony Award for Best Director for Kinky Boots, which also won the Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Musical.
Commenting on his involvement with the Barn, Jerry Mitchell said:
“I couldn’t be more excited about The Barn Theatre and its plans. Having worked with both Iwan and Dom on various productions, it’s great to see them now forging their own path as young leaders in the industry. It’s a very positive thing to see a new generation of artists come through. To watch the energy with which they are approaching the opening of the new theatre and the first production is fantastic.”
Mitchell also took a break from his preparations for his new Broadway production of Pretty Woman: The Musical starring Samantha Barks to send a video message to The Secret Garden cast when they arrived for rehearsals in Cirencester.
David Haydn (Archibald Craven) – David’s international theatre credits include: ‘Brick’ in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (SRT, Santa Rosa, California) ‘Policeman,’ u/s ‘Mr Manningman’ in Gaslight (Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto) ‘Jake Quinn’ in Stones in His Pockets (Popular Productions, Dubai) ‘Stephen Fitzgerald’ in The Irish Curse (Edinburgh and Dublin Festivals) ‘Sir Robert Bowes/Robert Bruce’ in Jamie the Saxt (Finborough Theatre, London) ‘Beak’ in Beak Street (Tabard Theatre, London) Musicals include: ‘Pete’s Dad’ in The Burnt Part Boys (Park 90) ‘Fred O’Neil’ in I Dreamed a Dream (UK Tour) ‘Gov. Slaton/Britt Craig/Mr. Peavey’ in Parade (Southwark Playhouse) ‘Mr. Myers’ in Fame (UK Tour) ‘Simeon’ and cover ‘Jacob’ in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour) ‘Sammy’ in The Wedding Singer (SRT, Santa Rosa, CA) ‘George’ in Spend Spend Spend (Union Theatre, London) ‘Mac’ in Pipe Dream (Union Theatre, London) ‘Marty Melcher’ in Secret Love (UK Tour) ‘Tyrone Schwartz’ in The Famished Land (Greenwood Theatre, London) ‘Prince Tarragon’ in Tickledom (Welsh Tour). Film & TV include: ‘Aedin’ in The Crown and the Dragon (Arrowstorm Entertainment) ‘Cavill’ in The Trap (FMW Productions) ‘Ryan’ in Kinolife (Double Pidgeon) ‘Danny Bell’ in Retribution (Jaffa Entertainment) and most recently ‘Prime Minister Samuel Adams’ in Age of the Living Dead (Dystopian Films). Radio includes: ‘Narrator’ in A Novel Ending (BBC Southern Counties Radio), ‘Caxon, Lesley and Sweepclean’ in The Antiquary (BBC Radio 4)Workshops include: ‘Alvaro’ in Alvaro’s Balcony (Lost Theatre, London) ‘Herbert Marcuse’ in Dialektikon, ‘The Man’ in Americana (Stratford East) and ‘Jock’ in The Waterbabies (Dominion Theatre, London).
Jenny O Leary (Martha) – Jenny’s credits include: Ensemble/1st cover Joanne, Rent (UK Tour/Michael Grandage), Debbie, Groundhog Day (Old Vic Theatre), Mama Bear/Ogre/cover Dragon, Shrek, (UK Tour), Ensemble/cover Madame Thenardier, Les Miserables (Queens Theatre), Princess Winnifred, Once Upon a Mattress (The Union Theatre), Ensemble, Our House The Musical – 10th Anniversary (The Savoy Theatre), Tracy Turnblad, Hairspray The Musical (Aberystwyth Arts Centre). TV: Beth, Casualty (BBC).
Minel Patel (Neville Craven) – Theatre credits include: Charles the Wrestler/Amiens in As You Like It (Southwark Playhouse) Porthos/Milady in The Three Musketeers (Barbershopera); Debesh in Between Empires (Edinburgh Festival) Uncle/Mr Bhamra in Bend It Like Beckham (West End Workshop) Dir. Gurinder Chadha; Marcel in Beauty and the Beast (Theatre Royal Stratford East);You and Me, Here We Are (Birmingham Eastside Projects; Abdul Karim in The Queen and I (Arcola Theatre) Snug the Joiner in A Midsummer Nights Dream (New Wolsey, Ipswich) Dir. Trevor Nunn.
Alex James Ellison (Dickon) – Alex’s credits include Bright Young Things workshop (The Other Palace), Aliens Love Underpants (West End/U.K. Tour), Whistle Down The Wind (Union Theatre) and Apartment 40C (London Theatre Workshop/The Other Palace). As a musician, he supported film star Samantha Barks on her tour of the UK and also played to 20,000 people on the Trafalgar Square Stage for Pride In London.
Celeste De Veazey (Colin Craven) – Celeste made her professional debut at the age of 15, in A Little Night Music at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris. Her credits also include Army Recruiter in Mother Courage at Southwark Playhouse, Benvolio in a queer production of Romeo and Juliet at The Union Theatre, Jordan Baker in Black Eyed Theatres production of The Great Gatsby, Katja in The Bureau of Lost Things (Theatre 503) and Ghost/fortune teller in The EA Sims 4 game soundtrack.
Daniella Piper (Mary) – Daniella’s credits include Donna & Police Officer in Electrolyte (Watermill Theatre), Amorette in Beauty and the Beast (Queens Theatre), Princess Pearl in Sinbad (Ipswich), Television credits include Sofia in Bounty Hunter (Tiger Aspect).
Dominic Shaw (Director) – Dominic Shaw’s directorial credits include: Bubonic; Catch Me If You Can (Workshops, ATG); A Memory For Forgetting (Arcola); Silk Road; Get Got (Edinburgh); Fan Fiction (Reading, St. James). As Associate Director his credits include: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Aldwych); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy/UK tour); Legally Blonde (Savoy/UK tour/Australia/Vienna). Stagings for TV include: Olivier Awards 2016, (Kinky Boots); 2015 (Beautiful) and 2011 (Legally Blonde); GStarRAW 2013 advertising campaign (Rankin Photography); New Year’s Eve Live 2012 (Sydney); Comic Relief 2008 (Hairspray) and Tonight’s The Night (ITV).
The Secret Garden runs from 16 March to 15 April 2018 at The Barn, 5 Beeches Road, Cirencester GL7 1BN. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Thursday matinees at 2.30pm, and Sunday matinees at 12.30pm and 5.30pm. Tickets are priced £14-£22. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!