Three Fort Smith Public School music teachers — Emily Guadagnini, Katy Featherston and Kirsten Binns — will grace the stage the next few weeks in the Fort Smith Little Theatre’s production of the classic children’s tale, “The Secret Garden.”
This is the first FSLT production for Guadagnini, Chaffin Junior High School choral music director, who plays the
part of Lily. She was encouraged to audition by her friend and colleague, Featherston, who is the Northside High School choral music director and FSLT veteran. Featherston plays Martha in this production.
“I hope audience members will walk away thinking. Music opens minds, and this show is a beautiful portrayal of light conquering darkness and the power of positivity. All of us occasionally need to be reminded of that,” Guadagnini said.
Binns, who is the music teacher at Euper Lane and Ballman elementary schools, brings her talent to the role of Alice.
"The Secret Garden" is an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Victorian classic and blooms anew in this musical version by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon.
The play, co-directed by George Mann (musical director) and Carole Rogers (stage director), follows young Mary Lennox after she loses her parents to a cholera outbreak in India. When Mary is sent to live with her hunch-shouldered uncle, Archibald Craven, who lives like a hermit in an imposing, secluded manor on the British heath, she meets Colin, Archibald's bedridden son, hidden away.
Through the course of her new adventure, Mary encounters a collection of “dreamers” — spirits of people from her past, who sing hauntingly beautiful music to guide her in her new life. She also discovers her deceased Aunt Lily’s hidden garden, locked and overgrown with vines, and becomes doggedly determined to revive the floral beauty that once reflected joy and hope.
As Mary begins to peel away the layers of sadness that cover the house and the garden, her efforts symbolize the impact one small girl can have when she desperately wants something to change and grow.
“The Secret Garden” opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Evening performances will be 7:30 p.m. July 28-29 and Aug. 2-5 and 10-12. Afternoon matinees are scheduled for 2 p.m. July 30 and Aug. 6. All performances are at FSLT, 401 N. Sixth St. For reservations, call 783-2966.