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Characters come alive at “Secret Garden” open auditions

By Nicole Black
On April 16, 2014

Thespians and new actors alike transformed into different people during the open auditions for “The Secret Garden.”

The two hours of flipping through scripts, going over lines and interacting with other characters were well spent for the group of actors and actresses who gathered in the lecture theater. They'll all be part of the 2014 spring play “The Secret Garden,” directed by Judy Gonzales and Beth Heyart.

“The Secret Garden” is about a young girl named Mary who is sent to live with her uncle after her parents die of cholera. She soon finds a hidden garden behind a gate on her uncle's property. With her cousin Colin and friend Dickon, they transform the garden into a paradise through their love of nature and friendship and find a way to happiness and acceptance. The story was written by Frances Burnett and the play being featured is adapted by Tim Kelly.

The audition process was set in a rotating system where the people auditioning read over a section of a scene and were put randomly into groups. They are given a part and go up on stage to read the scene in the character they've been given. Once everyone has been given the chance to try out every character in a scene, the group leaves the room while Gonzales and Heyart discuss the parts and who best suited the role. Participants then chatted and ate cupcakes while waiting for the results to be read aloud, accompanied by a makeshift drum-roll over scripts and notepads.

“Acting is a blast,” said Shawn Smith, who was cast as the parts of John, Phil and the bellboy. “Even with the nerves and getting up there without being assured that you'll get the part of not, they're fair.”

Jennifer Lothian, who was cast as the cook, was pleased with the audition process.

“I like this form of auditions. We can get the feel of the character,” Lothian said.

However, Gonzales said she believes the auditions are the hardest part of the drama process and putting the right person to the right role is complicated. Heyart was also pleased with the auditions and was happy that each actor that auditioned was cast.

“It's exciting to see (the actors) grow as individuals. It starts with a script and creating whole worlds,” Gonzales said.

The play will take about six weeks to be completed. The schedule may seem tight, but Gonzales believes that it's the best path of action for the actors due to their varying schedules. Unlike high school where practices are after classes in the afternoon for four or five days a week, these practices are more scattered and more pressure is put onto the actors to memorize their lines and practice outside of rehearsal.

“We work hard and we play hard,” Gonzales said. “We do it because we love it."

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