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The enthusiasm on campus for Pauper Players' production of "The Secret Garden" is not as covert as the show's title.
The musical has been in the works for more than two months and finally opens Friday.
While the group's first production of the season comes relatively late in the school year, organizers said they think the extra rehearsal time will make for a better and more accomplished show.
"Opening night always comes, ready or not," said Lori Mannette, the show's producer. "But I do think we are ready for this one. We have had ample time to prepare, and I think the audience will appreciate how polished and rock-solid the product is."
Mannette said that "The Secret Garden" is a popular show and that its music and original vision will make it attractive to everyone.
First-time director Jessica Smith pitched the idea of "The Secret Garden" as Pauper's first production because of the creativity she believed could be unlocked with such a flexible show.
"Being a first-time director is always daunting," Smith said. "I was lucky to have a cast that was willing and very open to the ideas of a crazy new director."
Pauper Players will present the classic children's story with a gothic and almost spooky style, although the show will remain true to its family-oriented roots.
"I really wanted the actors to explore the elusive nature of home," Smith said. "The production is all about finding out who you are and defining the elusive line between childhood and adulthood."
The character development and overall feeling of "The Secret Garden" relied heavily on the show's classically styled music, intricate costumes and detailed setting.
Mannette said a longer production time was necessary for the cast members to truly hone in on their characters' personalities and the in-depth meaning behind the script.
"The music is the core and foundation of this show," said Sarah Dempsey, the student-actress who plays Lily, the show's main character.
"This is not a hobby, and these are not amateur productions. Pauper strives to create a professional experience for audiences, cast and crew members alike."
Pauper Players, who previously performed in Playmakers Theatre, have undergone a change in venue in recent years, but the cast has worked to adapt to the smaller stage of the Union Cabaret.
"'The Secret Garden' is such a difficult show, and I really think that the dedication and sheer talent of this cast and production staff is what really makes it so wonderful," Dempsey said.
"I can't stress how different and unique this production is."
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