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Saturday, December 5, 2015

FINAL WEEKEND! Young Marisa Piccininni is marvelous as Mary Lennox in Chester Theatre Group’s musical ‘The Secret Garden’-directed by Cliff Parrish

L-R: Jack Pacetti, Bobby Becht, and Marisa Piccininni
We attended last Saturday night’s performance of “The Secret Garden.” The production is excellent. Director and Musical Director Cliff Parrish, a past Perry Award winner, has created a wonderful theater event, beautifully staged. Fine orchestra and impressive voices.
richm The cast is marvelous led by young Marisa Piccininni, perfect as Mary Lennox; with young Bobby Becht as Colin Craven; Rich Maloy as Ben (fun solo-photo), another Perry winner; Jeff Dopson as Archibald Craven; Jason Cilento as Dr. Neville Craven (THE voice of the night); the lovely Gira DeRise-Weaver as Lily Craven;  Jack Pacetti as Dickon Sowerby; Shannon Ludlum as Martha Sowerby; and, Pat Wry spot-on as Mrs. Medlock.  

Rounding out the fine cast are: Zita Geoffroy-Heinz as Jane; Gayle Hendrix as Mrs. Winthrop; Maria Hladczuk as Ann (Dreamer); Vanessa Marie Jimenez as Alice (Dreamer); Shane Long as Albert Lennox (Dreamer); Jodi Maloy as Ayah (Dreamer); Daniel Metz as Lt. Wright (Dreamer); Donald Pauselius as Major Holmes (Dreamer); Martha Riley as Mrs. Holmes (Dreamer); and Megan Walling as Rose Lennox (Dreamer).

secretnnarch The Secret Garden is based on the classic children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Set in Colonial India and England at the turn of the 20th century, "The Secret Garden" tells the story of Mary Lennox an 11 year old girl whose parents die during a cholera epidemic. Sent to live with her uncle Archibald (Jeff Dopson –left), who is still mourning the loss of his wife Mary finds she is alone and lost in a grown up world. Eventually she meets her cousin Colin, a sick boy who can't get out of bed, but everything changes when they find each other, and the magic of the garden.

Written by Tony Award winning playwright Marsha Norman, with music by Lucy Simon "The Secret Garden" is filled with gothic imagery, unresolved grief, and a touch of the supernatural, “The Secret Garden” is more Harry Potter than Hans Christian Andersen. The rich Lucy Simon score includes several celebrated songs from the contemporary musical theater canon, including “Come to My Garden,” “A Bit of Earth”, and the show‐stopping duet “Lily's Eyes.” Dubbed by TIME Magazine "the best American musical of the Broadway season" in its 1991 premiere, the original cast featured Mandy Patinkin as Archibald Craven, Rebecca Luker as Lily, and a Tony Award‐winning portrayal of Mary Lennox by Daisy Eagan.

PerryAwardsCliffParrish The entire production is directed by Cliff Parrish (photo)  with choreography by Megan Ferentinos.

"The Secret Garden"  started on Friday, November 20th and will extend through Sunday, December 6th. Performances are Friday and Saturdays at 8:00 and Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are $25.00 with a discounted price of $20.00 for seniors over 65 and students under 18. Tickets may be purchased online at

The Chester Theatre Group performs in The Black River Playhouse, an intimate, 100-seat theater in the heart of Chester Borough’s historic district. The venue’s in-the-roundBlack-River-Playhouse-chesterformat ensures that every seat offers an engaging, memorable experience for each audience member. The theater is located on the corner of Grove Street and Maple Avenue. For more information, visit the CTG website at

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