Robeson students to present ‘The Secret Garden’ this week

First Posted: 3/11/2014

LUMBERTON — Studio One Lab, the theatre training program of the Public Schools of Robeson County, is doing things a little differently for its all-county spring musical this year.

Starting Thursday, students will put on “The Secret Garden,” a three-time Tony Award-winning musical based on the best-selling novel by Francis Burnett.

“We’ve been doing a lot of happy go-lucky, high-energy shows,” said Jeanne Koonce, artistic director for the program. “This is a more serious subject matter, a more romantic and lush score.”

Koonce said the production is relevant to what students are learning.

“We tried to choose material for the musical that is curriculum-associated and in this case, ‘The Secret Garden’ is a book that is read in the school,” Koonce said. “It’s a story that a lot of the students know because they’ve read it.”

As in years past, Koonce said, the spring musical is meant to acquaint students with “the major works of the Broadway stage.” In the past, students have put on classics like “Foot Loose,” “Grease,” “West Side Story” and “Bye Bye, Birdie.”

“The music for this show is just gorgeous. It’s romantic and lyrical and very similar to “Les Miserables,” Koonce said. “It’s a wonderful choice for doing something different.”

Koonce said she first heard the score a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love with it. She says students have, too, especially those with big voices to show off.

“I was surprised because I didn’t know if they would connect with something a little more serious and they have,” Koonce said.

There’s plenty for the crowd to connect with as well.

“It’s a story about family,” Koonce said. “Although the girl, Mary, is the center-pin of the book, the way the musical is, it’s a lot about fathers and sons … the focus is on family and the place that children have in their parents’ hearts.”

“The Secret Garden” runs Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 each night and March 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the auditorium theatre space at Lumberton Sr. High School.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students, and will be on sale in the school lobby each night 45 minutes prior to the performance. Call 910-224-4000 or email [email protected] for reservations.

For information or to read about the cast, find Studio One Lab PSRC on facebook.com.