Audition Notice for The Secret Garden

August 30th, 2014

In his rambling manor house in 1906 England, widower Archibald Craven yearns for his beautiful wife. He blames his son, Colin, for her death and has isolated and neglected the boy. Young Mary Lennox  comes to live with them after her parents’ death and finds a hidden, walled garden. She releases the magic within, changing their lives forever.


Children (under 18): Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, noon to 3PM

(If the child is not available on Sept. 20, please specify his/her availability)

Adults: Sunday/Monday, Sept. 21-22, 2014, 7PM to 10PM

Callbacks: Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, 7PM to 10PM—by invitation only

(If you are not available for callbacks, please alert director when requesting your audition slot)

All auditions/performances will be at 111 N. Hale St., Wheaton, IL

Show runs Nov. 14 through Dec. 7, 2014; no performance Thanksgiving Day.

Audition slots can be requested starting Sept. 1, 2014. Please email the following to

  • Name
  • Phone number and email address
  • Age (if under 18)
  • Parents’ names and phone (if under 18)
  • Which role(s) are you most interested in?
  • Are willing to accept any role?
  • How did you hear about the auditions?

Walk-ins will also be seen (as time allows) on a first-come, first-served basis.

Auditioners should prepare 16–32 bars of a musical theater song in the style of “The Secret Garden” but not from the show itself. Please provide sheet music in the proper key. An accompanist will be provided.

Auditioners may not sing a cappella, nor with recorded music.

If you are auditioning only for a non-singing role, you will read from the script at your initial audition and you will not be required to sing.

A short dance call will be part of the preliminary audition. Please dress for freedom of movement.

CHARACTERS (unless specified, all roles require a standard British accent)

Archibald Craven (30s–50s) Tenor. Hunchbacked man overcome with grief over the loss of his beloved wife. Father to Colin. He takes in Mary, who reminds him of his late wife. He longs for reasons to move on and live again.

Lily Craven (25–35) Soprano. Dies in childbirth having Colin. As a spirit she watches over Archie and Colin, wanting only love and happiness for them.

Colin Craven (8–13) Soprano. Though Colin is basically healthy, his father’s overprotective nature has kept him bed-ridden and weak. Spoiled and demanding, Colin craves parental love and friends his age.

Dr. Neville Craven (30s–50s) Baritone. Archie’s brother. Was in love with Lily. Oversees the manor’s management and Colin’s care.

Capt. Albert Lennox (30–50) Tenor. Mary’s father. Dies of cholera early on and follows Mary as a spirit.

Rose Lennox (28–40) Mezzo. Mary’s mother. Dies of cholera early on and follows Mary as a spirit.

Mary Lennox (8–13), Mezzo. The heart of the story. After her parents die of cholera, she goes to live in a strange , new home with her Uncle Archie. Curious and astute, yet subject to childish tantrums. Needs to feel loved and at home.

Martha Sowerby (18–early 30s) Mezzo. Chambermaid at Misselthwaite Manor who takes a liking to Mary. Dickon’s sister. Yorkshire accent/dialect.

Dickon Sowerby (14–mid-20s) Tenor. A sprightly young fellow who loves nature and can charm animals. Martha’s brother. Fascinated by Misselthwaite’s gardens and mazes. Yorkshire accent/dialect.

Ben Weatherstaff (40+) Tenor. Head gardener at Misselthwaite Manor. Yorkshire accent/dialect.

Mrs. Medlock (35-60+) Head housekeeper for Misselthwaite. Busy, no-nonsense woman.

Fakir (18+) Tenor/alto/soprano. Indian chanter. (Open on gender and ethnicity).

Ayah (18+) Alto. Mary’s Indian nanny. (Open on ethnicity.)

Lt. Ian Shaw (25–35+) Tenor. Officer in Capt. Lennox’s unit. Dies of cholera and aids the spirit of Capt. Lennox by watching over his family.

Lt. Peter Wright (25–35+) Baritone. Officer in Capt. Lennox’s unit and discovers Mary alive. Dies of cholera and aids the spirit of Capt. Lennox by watching over his family.

Major Holmes (35–45+) Bass. Officer in Captain Lennox’s unit and discovers Mary alive. Dies of cholera and aids the spirit of Capt. Lennox by watching over his family.

Claire Holmes (25–40+) Soprano. Major Holmes wife. Dies of cholera.

Alice (25-40+ years old) Soprano. Rose’s friend. Dies of cholera.

Major Shelley (35–50+) Officer in Captain Lennox’s. Takes care of Mary before she moves in with Archie.

Mrs. Shelley (35–50+) Wife to Major Shelley. Takes care of Mary before she moves in with Archie.

Mrs. Winthrop (40s–60s) Head Mistress of an all-girls boarding school. Neville asks that she come to see Mary.

Non-age-specific characters:

Nurse (non-singing)

William. Tenor

Betsy. Alto

Timothy. Bass

Ensemble: 2 men, 2 women (possibly more or fewer)


Professional Teachers Add Vitality to Workshop Program

July 1st, 2014

Whether your child is a seasoned performer or a “newbie”, Wheaton Drama’s summer theater workshop is designed for all kids. Enroll now and enjoy watching him or her develop skills that could be life changing. Lauren Blane will be choreographing week one students. Her training began at the Faubourg Ballet Academy under Watmora Casey. She has been featured in the Marriott Theater’s productions of “SHOUT!” and “Now and Forever and Mary Poppins”.

Cyndi Bringer will be teaching one section of 6-8 grade in week two. Cyndi has taught drama at Westfield Middle School for the past ten years and has her MA in directing from Roosevelt University. She is on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Theatre Association as the “Theatre for Young Audiences” representative.

Amy Brockman will be teaching music during week one and has been musical director for WDI summer workshop for the past five years. She has a degree in vocal performance and music education from Coe College. Amy is this year’s workshop coordinator.

Kelly Buesse will be teaching vocal music in the week two session. She has performed off Broadway, in national tours and regional theaters. Kelly has a degree in music from Westminster Choir College and a master’s degree in voice from NIU.

Becky DeDecker will be teaching week one for third through fifth graders and week two as choreographer. She currently teaches drama classes at Waubonsie Valley H.S. and was the choreographer for the 2013 Illinois All-State production of “Memphis”.

Vicky Giannini will be teaching week one for the first and second graders. She has worked as a teaching artist at Goodman Theatre and with the General Theater Program. She also has extensive stage experience.

Lisa Schmela will be teaching week two high school students. Lisa is a professional actor and holds membership in SAG and AFTRA. She was classically trained by Nicholas Pennell from Stratford and Gillian Eaton of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Week One: July 7 – 11: Destination: Adventure! Grades 1 – 5 (two sessions offered, only sign up for one) Morning session 8.30 – 12.00, Performance July 12 at 10.30 am Afternoon session 1.00 – 4.30, Performance July 12 at 2.00 pm $100 per student

Week Two: July 14 – 18 Life Upon The Wicked Stage Middle School and High School 9.00 am – 4.30 pm, (Note: Bring a sack lunch) Performance July 19 at 10.00 am $200 per student For more information: call 630-260-1820 or go to

Looking for some summer fun?

June 24th, 2014

WDI’s Summer Children’s Workshop is an outstanding week of theatre for student grades 1 -12. Our teachers are all highly trained individuals and have worked on national tours, soap operas, local professional theaters (like Marriott Lincolnshire and the Goodman) and are generally just exceptional instructors. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of fun you will have at this workshop!

Sign up today!

Grades 1-5 are July 7-11, either morning (8.30-12) or afternoon (1-4.30) with a performance on Saturday July 12 for the ridiculously low price of $100.
Grades 7-12 are July 14-18 ALL DAY (9-4.30) with a performance on Saturday July 19 for only $200!

Directors selected for our 2014-15 season

March 29th, 2014

Congratulations and best wishes to all our fine directors!

Mad Mid-Mod MusicalsPam Turlow. June 26-29

The Last Five YearsKathleen Dooley. Aug 8-17

AmadeusRandall W. Knott. Sept 19-Oct 12

The Secret GardenAnthony Berg. Nov 14-Dec 6

It’s A Wonderful Life – Radio ShowSuzanne Ogren. Dec 11-14

The 39 StepsKen Kaden. Jan 30-Feb 22, 2015

Enchanted AprilMarge Uhlarik-Boller. Mar 27-Apr 12

SpamalotPeter Lemongelli. May 22-June 14


‘Steel Magnolias’ holds personal parallels for Wheaton Drama director

March 28th, 2014

 By Peter Lemongelli

 For director Lisa Dawn Foertsch, “Steel Magnolias” is a labor of love, holding a deep, personal connection.

“My mother donated a kidney to my brother when I was 17—a kidney that didn’t hold,” she says. “My mother has shown me, all my life, what it is to love someone unconditionally, and to really be there for someone, and the show portrays this in all of the women/characters…She’s the ‘Steel Magnolia’ in my life.”

Foerstch’s family history mirrors that of Robert Harling’s comedy/drama, based on his own mother and sister’s true story. “Steel Magnolias,” staged by Wheaton Drama at Playhouse 111 through April 13, focuses on the special bond shared by a group of Southern women as they support a young woman in her battle with Type 1 diabetes.

Foertsch discloses how much of her mother is truly invested in her direction of the play. “I’ve seen my mother be stronger than anyone, but I’ve also seen her more vulnerable, sensitive moments…it just shows me balance,” she explains. “You can’t have strength without weakness, and you can find that wonderful spot in the middle where you can grow.”

She has also been blessed to have a core group of friends similar to the characters in the show, but it took time, she says: “I was a tomboy growing up, so as I grew it was difficult having relationships with women and relating to them, but now I have a true-blue, steel group of women, and I understand and love those relationships.”

Foertsch is no stranger to theater. She honed her craft at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn and at Buffalo Theater Ensemble, which performed on COD’s campus. From there, Foertsch directed and acted in many  theaters, both in Chicago and in Chicago’s suburbs.

Last year, Foertsch made her dramatic acting debut at Wheaton Drama in the stunning World War II drama “Full Circle,” and she discovered she enjoyed the theater group: “Everyone’s so nice and welcoming. … I know that everyone cares about what they are doing—deeply.”

Foertsch cares for her production staff with that same depth: “My assistant director (Elaine G. Castro) is my right arm, the yin to my yang—she’s a great balance for me.” Foertsch says. “My producer (Michael Boyna) is the flower pot that everything grows in.”

The storyline of “Steel Magnolias” is a focal point, of course, but the bonds of this special group of women hold special importance for Foertsch and her talented cast: “These relationships, the meaningful relationships we have in this lifetime, these people act as mirrors to us—our strengths, our flaws, they give us a chance to see more clearly and to grow. … There’s hardship and loss, but that doesn’t stop you. … You can move forward and overcome—find joy again, and even if you feel unloved there’s always someone there for you, even though you can’t see it.”


Gossip is a currency at Truvy's Beauty Salon.

Gossip is a currency at Truvy’s Beauty Salon. (Photo by Steven Merkel)


The setting of the play in a beauty salon is also significant, she says: “These women go to a beauty parlor to transform and become more beautiful, but really the relationships in that beauty shop are changing them for the better, in a deeper and more meaningful way.”

Foertsch says her cast—Angelicque Cate, Amanda Raudabaugh, JoAnn Smith, Nicolette Lalor, Linda Timpa, and Brenda Scharlau—and the characters they portray are of special importance. 

“See the show for these women, they have come in and put so much heart, so much of themselves into this show,” Foertsch says. “The laughter they’ve had offstage and the building of their friendship together just flow into the audience and can be of great comfort.”

“Steel Magnolias” will be performed at 111 N. Hale St. in Wheaton on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from March 21 through April 13, 2014. Curtain is at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The Sunday curtain is at 3 p.m. Tickets are $13 for Thursday Performances, and $16 for all other performances. Please call 630-260-1820 or visit for reservations or additional information. 


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