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West Hartford Community Theater Presents 'The Secret Garden'

Father and daughter, Harry and Alexandra Van der Hulst, star on stage together in the musical version of this well known book.

(WHCT) will present the musical, "The Secret Garden" on June 29–30. 

This adaptation brings one of the most beloved books of all time to life in a musical. The cast features many notable West Hartford residents, including Harry Van der Hulst and his daughter Alexandra. This is the first time that both of them are playing leading roles on stage together. 

“The family is incredibly talented, and it’s a pleasure to showcase their exceptional dedication and love of musical theater,” said local attorney Bruce LaRoche, founder and president of West Hartford Community Theater. 

Alexandra will play Mary Lennox, who loses her parents to cholera and goes to live with her Uncle Archibald Craven. While living with her Uncle Archibald, Mary discovers a secret walled garden hidden in the grounds and releases the magic and adventures locked inside, changing everyone’s lives forever.

The caretaker of the garden is Ben Weatherstaff, played by Alexandra’s father, Harry. Although Ben was supposed to hail from Yorkshire, England, Harry’s Dutch accent will serve us well. 

“Not everyone had to be from England in 1906,” said Maria Librio Judge, co-founder of West Hartford Community Theater and local CPA.

Harry is a West Hartford resident and a world renowned linguist and professor of linguistics at the University of Connecticut. Alexandra is a 7th grader in West Hartford and has won several awards for her singing ability.

“When I first met her, I knew she had “it”….and if she continues on this path … we’ll all be watching her one day on Broadway!” LaRoche said.

Katie Meagher will play the role of Lilly, Mary Lennox’s deceased Aunt. Katie graduated from in 2008 with a degree in vocal performance, and is a relentless supporter of WHCT. Not only will Katie perform, but she will assist with any and all back stage needs, as well. 

“No one can call Katie a prima donna … she’s a team player with a beautiful voice. It’s hard to find that combination in today’s world,” said Judge. 

Michael McDermott is also a resident of West Hartford and he will be playing the sinister role of Dr. Craven, Archibald’s younger brother. Michael is a professional actor and singer who is well-known in the area. His Irish band, Cead Mile Failte, performs all over the state, and is in highest demand on St. Patrick’s Day! Michael is a graduate of The Hartford Conservatory and studies voice with the famous Marni Nixon. 

“I met Michael 10 years ago by way of our voice teacher, Peter Harvey. Michael is an incredible talent and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him on board. His voice is gorgeous, his acting is wonderful, and he is a delight to work with. You can’t ask for more than that!” said LaRoche. 

Deborah Peckman is another West Hartford resident, and she will play the wonderful role of Martha, Mary’s maid. Deborah has children who attend and the , and has previously performed in national and international theater productions. Most recently, she taught music classes for children from infants to kindergarten, including classes at West Hartford's Bridge Family Resource Center at and schools.

The role of Martha’s younger brother will be played by Greg Ludovici, a professional improvisor and one of the founding members of Hartford's award-winning comedy troupe, Sea Tea Improv. This year Greg was nominated for Best Improv Coach in the national INNY Awards, and in 2012 his group was crowned state champions of the CT Comedy Cage Match Series. Greg is a native of Connecticut and grew up studying music, voice, and theater with the HARTT School's youth and community programs. During college and grad school Greg took sabbaticals from CT, and eventually found his way home after chartering a charity musical theater organization in Saratoga Springs, NY, and studying dance and drama in London, England. When not on stage, Greg can often be found singing to himself as he putters around Blue Back Square and Elizabeth Park on a green scooter. 

Zach Aldave is another West Hartford resident, and he will play the role of Colin Craven, the young boy that Mary Lennox tries to help. Zack is an 8th grader at .  “Zach is a natural on stage and his talent will leave you wanting more,” said Judge.

West Hartford's Kimberley Parsons Whitaker will charm you with her vocal abilities as Claire. She was last seen with WHCT as Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music. Beth Johnson will be playing Lily’s sister, and Rose and Jen Jensen will play Mrs. Medlock. 

Other notable parts include:

Capt. Albert Lennox

Carlos Silva

Lt. Wright

Hal Chernoff

Lt. Shaw

Eric Goldberg

Maj. Shelly

Michael Dolan

Maj Holmes

Patrick Spadacinno

Claire Holmes/Mrs. Winthrop

Kimberly Parsons-Whitaker

Fakir

Daniel Madigan

Ayah

Iesha Rose

Mrs. Shelley/Alice

Katie Cox

"The Secret Garden" will take place on June 29 at 7:30 p.m., June 30 at 2 p.m., and June 30 at 7:30 p.m. at , 128 Sedgwick Road in West Hartford. 

Tickets are only $16 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at www.WHTheater.org or at in West Hartford Center (serving the Center since 1940). For Preferred Seating, call 860-967-7026.  This is a treat for the entire family!

Release submitted by West Hartford Community Theater

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