Spotlight on Our Circles Members

Our Circles Members help make The 5th’s new musical productions possible

A BIG thank you to our Circles Member donors, who through their gifts help support all of the artistic work of The 5th: on stage, in new work development and for our education programs—which served nearly 75,000 young people in our community last year.

For our 2016/17 Season, some of our Circles Members helped make the new productions of The Secret Garden and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion come to life. Our “Secret Garden Keepers” and “Romy and Michele Booster Club members” designated their gifts to support the productions.

The Romy and Michele Booster Club with the cast and creatives from the show at the Producer’s Dinner held at the home of Board Member Pat Kennedy and his wife Melissa Ries.

This has been a wonderful and exciting opportunity for Circles Member donors to help The 5th create new productions, while getting in on the ground floor and experiencing the productions as they evolve. The Secret Garden Keepers and the Romy and Michele Booster Club members were invited to attend a kick-off party with the creative team; to attend hosted rehearsals; to meet and spend time with the writers, composers, creatives and actors; to attend the opening night performance and post-show cast party; and were recognized along with their pictures as Executive Producers or Creators in all show publications. It has been rewarding and fun for everyone to have our Circles Members play an important part in this process!

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If you would like to hear more about becoming a Circles Member and/or helping The 5th bring new works to our audiences by designating your support to a production, please call our Development office at 206-625-1418. You can also find more information at our website.

Musical Round Up: Musicals Led by Young Actors

By JORDAN LUSINK, Communications Coordinator

In The Secret Garden, the lead character Mary Lennox is played by a young woman, usually 12 or under. In this video round up, we’re celebrating other shows led by young actors. Continue reading “Musical Round Up: Musicals Led by Young Actors”

How the Garden Grows: Our Favorite Green Spaces

By JORDAN LUSINK, Communications Coordinator

We asked our 5th Avenue family to share their favorite green spaces around the Seattle area. We are lucky to live in a part of the country (and world) where there are a wealth of options in this particular category. Though we’re stuck in a rainy spring, we’re looking forward to the beautiful days ahead, when we can take a breath away from our busy lives and stressful events, with this round up of some of the green spaces that our fans love.

Continue reading “How the Garden Grows: Our Favorite Green Spaces”

The Secret Garden and Frances Hodgson Burnett

By GRETCHEN H. GERZINA for D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company

Few people realize that The Secret Garden, the book that most readers associate with Frances Hodgson Burnett, was only one of the 53 novels she wrote and published, and that most of her books were for adults, not children. Although she had a lifetime love for children and gardens, she would be amazed to know that this book, which began as a magazine serial late in her life, is the one for which she is most remembered today— even though it was one that was closest to her heart.

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s love affair with gardens began when she was a small child living in Manchester, England. In 1852, when she was just three, her family moved to St. Luke’s Terrace, which backed onto fields owned by the Earl of Derby, leading Frances to recall it later in life as the “back garden of Eden.” She remembered it as a place of gardens and perpetual summer, where a small child could daydream beneath the trees and beside the flowers, ignoring the industrial city that surrounded this suburb of light and air. There were farms and country cottages close by and she became friendly with a family of market gardeners who kept pigs. Just a year later, however, her father, Edwin Hodgson, died, and his widow and five children embarked upon a decade of moving house, each time to a slightly less desirable neighborhood. Each move took Burnett further and further away from gardens, until in 1865, her mother decided to make the riskiest move of all: to join her rogue of a brother, who boasted of his accomplishments in America, in the American South during the last months of the Civil War. There the Hodgson family found itself ensconced in an unexpected place: a log cabin in a very small town outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. There, but for the generosity of their neighbors, they would have starved.

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Their financial difficulties were quite real, but young Fanny (a name she quickly abandoned) found Tennessee a true Garden of Eden after the pollution of Manchester and the smuts that floated down like snow from its factory chimneys.

She had read in the back of ladies’ magazines that they paid money for stories and, having invented them for her friends back in England, she thought she might take a chance at being paid to write. The first story she sent came back with comments, but instead of revising she mailed it again to another magazine. The editor was puzzled and surprised to find an accomplished work with an English setting coming out of Tennessee; was she English or American? That evening she sat down and wrote a second one for him. Both stories were accepted immediately, and with the check that arrived she launched a career that saw her eventually become America’s highest-paid woman writer. She was only 18 and none of her work was ever rejected.

By 1886, Frances had married a Tennessee doctor, had two sons and had written the blockbuster novel Little Lord Fauntleroy—her 18th novel, which made her hugely famous on both sides of the Atlantic. Now as Frances Hodgson Burnett she had money of her own, and bought, in cash, a 17-room house in Washington, D.C. From the moment of its first appearance as a serial in Saint Nicholas Magazine to its publication as a book a year later in 1886, Fauntleroy became a household name. Largely forgotten or ridiculed today, it was the Harry Potter of its day. The image of a sturdy and very masculine little boy in a velveteen jacket shot around the world and was to haunt her son Vivian, from whose photograph it was taken, for the rest of his days. The story—and the plays and films it spawned—started a fashion craze that mothers loved and boys hated, as they were forced into wide lace collars and long curls, probably not helped when girls were always given the stage and film role.

Even though writing was how she had to make her living, it also enabled her to travel, buy beautiful clothes and furnish houses in England and America. However, Burnett was not only a writer of novels and stories, she was also a producer of plays. Thirteen of her works appeared in West End theaters in London and on Broadway, generally written and produced by her. Prescient enough to understand the increasing role of movies, she later built clauses guaranteeing her the film rights to her books. It’s fascinating, therefore, that The Secret Garden did not become a stage musical or a popular film until late in the twentieth century, although apparently a now-lost film was made in 1919, five years before Burnett’s death.

 

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Although writing and gardening could not shield her from life’s tragedies, they did help her get through some of her life’s greatest sorrows. When her 16-yearold son Lionel tragically died of tuberculosis in her arms in Paris in 1890, she had his casket covered in violets. When her second marriage ended—a marriage that she was probably blackmailed into by a young English doctor and aspiring actor ten years her junior—she and her sister Edith retreated to a house that would become Frances’s most cherished home: Maytham Hall, in Rolvenden, Kent, which she first leased after her divorce from her American husband.

Rumors always surrounded her and there were plenty of reasons for her wanting to escape. From the time that Little Lord Fauntleroy first made her famous, she was constantly in the press and in the public eye. She crossed the Atlantic 33 times in her lifetime, and whenever one of the ships she traveled on docked, she was met by a crowd of newspaper and magazine reporters who wanted to know about her difficult health, her latest book and her love life. When she filed for divorce, her lawyer made sure she was safely on board a ship heading for England before serving the papers. Gardens were, for her, a retreat.

At Maytham, she had set up an outdoor study, with a table and chair under the trees near the rose garden, and wrote each morning in the company of a robin that grew tame, the later inspiration for Mary Lennox’s robin in The Secret Garden, which was, in fact, written in America. When she moved back to America for good she built a beautiful house with spacious gardens in Plandome on Long Island, and next door built a cottage for her surviving son Vivian and his family. As she grew older she spent her winters in Bermuda with her sister Edith and kept a full-time gardener.

Burnett claimed that The Secret Garden was the first children’s story to appear in an adult magazine. The first installment made its appearance in The American Magazine late in 1910. She wrote to her friend Ella Hepworth Dixon after the story’s serial publication that “it was our Rose Garden as it would have been locked up for years and years and years—and some hungry children had found it. You cannot think how everyone loves that story. People write to me with a sort of passion of it.”

The Secret Garden begins and ends in gardens, one a garden of death in India, and the other a garden of revitalization and resurrection in England. Burnett believed to the end of her own life in the healing and resurrecting power of gardens. The last chapter of The Secret Garden is called “In the Garden,” and the last thing that Burnett wrote, on her deathbed, was a magazine article by the same name. As in The Secret Garden, she always saw gardens as places of healing and return to health.

After she died, the little article was republished as a book, with watercolor pictures and photographs of her own gardens at Plandome. It ends with the words that have come to symbolize her other life’s work: “As long as one has a garden one has a future,” she wrote, “and as long as one has a future one is alive.”


Artwork by Becky Kelley.

This article originally appeared in ASIDES, the production program and publication of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Visit ShakespeareTheatre.org/Asides to learn more.

Click here to read more about and purchase tickets to The Secret Garden.

What Even Is a Manor?

By JORDAN LUSINK, Communications Coordinator

In The Secret Garden, Mary Lennox leaves behind everything she knows in India after her parents pass away, and is sent to live with an uncle she has never met in a home called Misselthwaite Manor. But what is a manor?

Continue reading “What Even Is a Manor?”

Behind the Scenes with the Cast of The Secret Garden

We can’t wait to share The Secret Garden with all of our 5th Avenue family. Not only have we been working on it here at The 5th, many of the cast and creative members participated in the co-production at D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Get a glimpse behind the scenes with these photos! Special thanks to The Secret Garden cast for sharing. Find and follow them on Instagram by clicking their names here: Tam Mutu (Archibald Craven), Lizzie Klemperer (Lily Craven), Josh Young (Dr. Neville Craven), Daisy Eagan (Martha), Charlie Franklin (Dickon), Brittany Baratz (Rose Lennox), Jason Forbach (Captain Albert Lennox), Johann George (Fakir) and Jared Michael Brown (Lieutenant Wright). Continue reading “Behind the Scenes with the Cast of The Secret Garden”

Behind the Curtain: The Secret Garden in Rehearsal

We caught up with the cast of The Secret Garden during rehearsals. Check out some of these beautiful photos by scrolling through the gallery below.

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Thank you to Mark and Tracy Photography for these beautiful rehearsal photos.

The Secret Garden runs April 14 to May 6, 2017. Find out more about the show, meet the cast, and purchase tickets at our website.

Meet The Secret Garden Principal Characters

Last week we introduced you to the members of The Secret Garden ensemble. Today, get a little more information about the principal characters in the show, many of whom are making their 5th Avenue debuts in this beautiful production!

Continue reading “Meet The Secret Garden Principal Characters”

Merchandise for The Secret Garden

We are eager to celebrate spring with our production of The Secret Garden! In preparation, we have assembled an exciting collection of merchandise, available for purchase in our lobby when you attend a performance of the show! Scroll through the gallery below to see the options.

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Click here to find out more about The Secret Garden.

Q & A: An Interview with Secret Garden Dialect Coach Lisa Nathans

We chatted with Lisa Nathans, the voice/text and dialect coach for The Secret Garden, to find out more about what a dialect coach does and what are some challenging aspects of the dialects in the show. Read more below!

Continue reading “Q & A: An Interview with Secret Garden Dialect Coach Lisa Nathans”