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WHS debuts 'Secret Garden' this Friday

The family-friendly musical is based on the classic novel of the same name

INDEPENDENT PHOTO: JULIA COMNES - Freshman Anna Koffler (right) stars as Mary in WACA's production of the Secret Garden, while Eddie Torres (center) plays the character Colin and Conner Williams (left) plays the character Dickon.Woodburn Arts and Communications Academy's spring musical, "The Secret Garden," premieres this Friday at 7 p.m.

The musical, set at the turn of the 20th century, follows 10-year-old protagonist Mary Lennox as she becomes orphaned and is sent to live with her mysterious uncle Lord Archibald Craven in his rural English mansion.

Mary struggles to adjust to a gloomy new world that seems caught between past and present. But change comes with spring and with Mary's discovery of a secret garden that may be the key to unlocking her uncle's secrets.

Directed by WACA theater teacher Caleb Thurston, the play stars freshman Anna Koffler as Mary and junior Edgar Nevarez as Lord Craven.

Koffler says that Mary is a character that people will relate to.

"In the beginning, she's in pain, she's lonely and she has a lot of walls up," Koffler said. "Throughout the show, she becomes more happy and open."INDEPENDENT PHOTO: JULIA COMNES - WACA junior Edgar Nevarez plays Lord Archibald Craven, a character who Nevarez described as somewhat similar to Ebenezer Scrooge.

Nevarez, who has been walking around with a cane to help get into character, says he drew inspiration from characters like Ebenezer Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol" for the role of Lord Craven.

"He's kind of self-reserving, not willing to open up," Nevarez said of Lord Craven.

He says the play will appeal to people because of its theme. "It's a story of hope. It's about learning to accept oneself and learning to forgive and forget," Nevarez said.

The musical is adapted from the 1911 Frances Hodgson Burnett novel of the same name. The adaptation, written by Thurston with music and lyrics by Heather Bishop Zurcher, was originally developed for a children's theater company.

This version of "The Secret Garden" is lighter in tone than the adaptation written by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon that premiered on Broadway in 1991.

"This version is brighter and more hopeful," Thurston said. "It's a family-friendly and approachable story."

The play runs Feb. 10-11 and 17-18 at 7 p.m. All performances take place at the Woodburn High School lectorium. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5. Woodburn School District employees are free.

Julia Comnes covers all things Woodburn. She can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..