Children blossom in local performance of ‘The Secret Garden’

Mon July 24, 2017

The Downers Grove Park District will present three performances of ‘The Secret Garden’ at the Avery Coonley School, 1400 Maple Ave. in Downers Grove.

The performances featuring local youth actors will be shown at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 and 12 and at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 13. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children ages 4 and under and seniors ages 62 and up. Purchase tickets at the Lincoln Center or online at by Aug. 10, or at the door before the show.

Based on the classic novel written by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1911, ‘The Secret Garden’ is a heartwarming story that brings music and magic to the stage. Watch as Mary Lennox, a young orphan girl, is sent to live in England with relatives that she does not know. There, she discovers a strange walled garden filled with magic and mystery. With the help of the gardener’s apprentice, she coaxes the garden back to life. Through the magical effects of the garden, the young girl is able to restore the health of a friend.

Akeila LeClaire, recreation supervisor and director of the show, has led the young cast through their discovery and exploration of the characters and story. “The cast has worked hard to uncover the emotions and meanings behind the characters. This story begins as a tragedy, and grows into a story of love, inspiration and magic. The audience should be ready for a splendid journey!”

This is the second youth performance directed by the Downers Grove Park District. Children ages 9 to 14 participating in the eight-week drama program have strengthened skills in singing, dancing and acting while learning multiple parts for the performance.

Playing the role of Miss Wiggin, Madeline Riske said, “The Secret Garden has been an experience almost as magical as the garden itself. This play has not only helped me grow in my acting abilities, but also to befriend the amazing people who are a part of the show. If it weren't for this program, I would never have worked with and learned from these wonderful people. The whole cast and crew has worked hard for this performance and I'm thrilled to perform the magic it brings!”

The cast consists of 20 actors in alphabetical order:

Marley Birch—Maid

Alex Brauweiler—Dickon Sowerby

Cecilia DeArcangelis—Mrs. Medlock (Friday and Saturday)

Liberty Haxton—Mrs. Sowerby

Kristen Kras—Cook

Diana Kwak—Lillias/Mrs. Medlock (Sunday)

Cailyn Myers—Mary Lennox

Tess O'Brien—Kanchi

Payton Pautsch—Fairgoer/Servant

Amanda Ragnini—Mrs. Crawford

Jack Reiser—Colin Craven

Ella Reiser—Nurse

Graham Reiser—John Sowerby

Madeline Riske—Miss Wiggin

Clark Seehausen—Dr. Craven

Jack Seehausen—Archibald Craven

Marissa Skeen—Jane Sowerby

Ashleigh Szydlowski—Fairgoer/Servant

Peyton Szydlowski—Betty Sowerby

Anna Walsh—Martha Sowerby

‘The Secret Garden’ is based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the book by Tim Kelly and music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur.