Last semester, the cast of The Secret Garden got a unique look behind the curtain of the Tony Award-winning musical. Marsha Norman, the musical’s Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, met with students prior to the production’s run during the last week of October. Norman discussed her creative process and the ups and downs of professional life in the theater. Below, the cast talks about their impressions of Norman and how their perspectives on their performance changed.

Hannah Weaver '17

as Lily

After graduation, I plan to pursue acting in New York, but my interests in the theater industry are diverse. I am also interested in public relations and marketing, and currently have a producing internship. Mrs. Norman spoke about her experience in the theater industry and how she did not follow a straight path to theatrical stardom, which gave me hope for my own future.

Matt Ackerman '18

as Dickon

Meeting Ms. Norman certainly made my understanding of "The Secret Garden" much deeper. She offered insight about how the character of Mary functions as the center of the musical. When I had scenes with her, I tried my best to emphasize Dickon's nurturing side as he attempts to teach Mary about all the good she can find in the Earth.

Meryl Hahne '17

as Rose Lennox

Ms. Norman was not only extremely knowledgeable about the theatrical world, but also provided insight into her personal experiences with writing, performing, and even her life. She didn't shy away from giving personal anecdotes about her embarrassments and failures, which helped to give me courage in pursuing my own passions.

Olivia Coughlin '20

with Marsha Norman

It was amazing to have a conversation with the person behind the pen and see the entire thought process that goes into turning a book into a play and a play into a musical. I think a lot of people often forget how incredibly difficult the process of getting a show to the stage can be.

Gavin Knox '17

as Neville Craven

As a writer, I was inspired by what she had to say, so much that I've started a new project. She said that your best writing is always about things that terrify you, and I've taken that advice and ran with it. I'm working on a new play that I plan to launch a staged reading of later in the semester.

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