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Belfast Maskers present musical ‘Secret Garden’

Jul 08, 2019
Photo by: Scott Anthony Smith The characters in “The Secret Garden,” from left, Ben (Scott Taylor), Martha (Abby Boucher), Colin Craven (Walden Merkel Cutting), Dickon (Chris Hayes), and Mary (Marina Bannister) discuss the spirit and charm of nature.

BELFAST — The Basil Burwell Community Theater is poised to come alive beginning July 11 with a lush, musical adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel “The Secret Garden.” Winner of multiple Tony Awards during its Broadway run in the 90s, the musical penned by Masha Norman (book and lyrics) and Lucy Simon (music) has enjoyed decades of success in community and professional theater productions.

Director Erik Perkins explained his choice of musicals: “Foremost in my mind was beautiful music and a compelling story. Then we looked for something that could best utilize Belfast Maskers’ great assets: the talented people of Belfast and this incredible new theater space.” Perkins refers to the Belfast Maskers’ new home in the small church at 17 Court St., which the company purchased last year and is actively renovating and converting into an approximately 100-seat theater. “The intimate environment presents some challenges, but more often it provides opportunities. A show like this has creepy, atmospheric scenes that can immerse an audience; joyous, celebratory numbers that they can share; and quiet, reflective songs and moments that they can experience with the characters in ways that would never be possible in a large house.”

Perkins oversaw a team of artists and artisans to bring the environment to life. “I am fortunate to have access to a lot of experienced designers and workmen who have not only expertise, but imaginations. A lot of my ‘design process’ was honestly just sketching things out or waving my hands and muttering, then watching our carpenters Mark (Durbin) and Brian (Ross) transform that into a fully-realized three-dimensional playing space. The foundation of the presentation is a large revolving set (picture a really big ‘Lazy Susan’) that my brother, Kris Perkins, fabricated for us out of structural steel. His clever design can support tons of scenery but be dismantled and stored. It should outlive us all.” Perkins’ goal was to have a production that was constantly moving, along with, and driven by, the excellent musical score.

Deb Fournier directed the challenging music, working with a cast of varying ages and experience. She will join pianist Lincoln Blake and percussionist Jeff Densmore to play accompaniment each night — as well as joining the cast onstage as housekeeper Mrs. Medlock. “We have been blessed to have a truly amazing group of both new and experienced singers/actors join us for this show,” she said. “Some familiar faces to the Belfast theater scene (Marina Bannister, Chris Hayes, Eric Sanders, Maggie Machaiak), join newcomers like Veronica Stubbs, Sarah Hughes, Jared Stubbs, to bring the music to life. Together, they have tackled a challenging score and created the timeless story of a young girl who gets uprooted and helps to not only bring a garden back from the chill of winter, but also the residents of Misselthwaite Manor. Although a challenging score, the Lucy Simon music takes us all on the journey with young Mary.” Local dancer and choreographer Julia Clapp has accented some of this music with lovely dancing.

BAHS Senior Bryan Spaulding took on the demanding duties of set dresser, properties master and additional scenic design. “Bryan is a very talented young dude. A lot of people behind the scenes are really stepping up to make the details pop. A bunch of the actors, like Eric Sanders, who plays Archibald Craven, have been in here on their days off painting rocks and walls.” Technical director Dave Fournier’s lighting is designed to flow along with the story, music, and changing scenery.

“The Secret Garden” opens Thursday, July 11, and runs for two weeks Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for 12 and younger, and are available at the door an hour before each performance or online at, where people can find out about the 501(c)3 non-profit organization’s future plans, events and volunteer opportunities.

The Arts & Entertainment deadline is Thursdays at 5 p.m. for events dated on/between the following two Thursdays. Please email press releases/photos to A&E Editor Christine Dunkle at

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