The ‘Secret’ is out, West’s musical is another success

Rachael Shanholtzer, staff writer

After dedicating numerous hours of practicing, the time had come for the Joliet West cast members of this year’s musical to shine. To follow up with the previous successful production of “Beauty and the Beast,” the students of Joliet West presented another stellar performance with the musical “The Secret Garden.” In the story, a snobby little girl named Mary Lennox, (senior Alex Baloy), who’s British family was living in India, learns at a young age that her parents have died from a cholera outbreak. Soon after finding out this news, Mary is sent to live with her mother’s brother-in-law, Uncle Archibald Craven (junior David Stobbe). When she arrives, she finds a home broken by the loss of his wife, Lily’s (senior Nicole Verive), who appears throughout the production in ghost form. Archibald has hidden virtually all evidence of Lily’s existence, including their crippled son Colin (sophomore Elyssa Krmpotich), whom is shut up in his bedroom for all hours of the day. Mary’s mere presence saddens her uncle because of her resemblance to Lily.

In an effort to occupy herself, Mary occupies her time in the garden, making friends with gardener Ben (sophomore Brendon Softcheck), chambermaid Martha (senior Becky Buechel), and her little brother Dickon (senior Connor Relyea). Her unhappiness is still ubondent, though, until she discovers a secret garden, hidden in masses of vines, which used to belong to her aunt Lily. Mary makes it a priority to find the key and make this mysterious garden her own.

Tension mounts as Archibald and his brother Neville (junior Eric Brett) feud over whether to send Mary to school or not. Neville also must conceal the secret love he had for Lily, as his brother seems to be perpetually distraught with grief. Ghosts of Mary’s parents (sophomore Felicia Warren and senior Ethan McCallister), Craven family and friends (sophomore Zoe Roechner and junior Elizabeth Darlin), and Mary’s helpers in India, Ayah and Fakir (sophomores Alana Bravo and Devin Braswell) constantly occupy the house, adding to the chorus of distress over this melancholy home.

Throughout the performance, all the cast members both acted and sang phenomenally. Each time a new character had the spotlight, they left the audience wanting more. After numerous practices, the cast’s hard work truly paid off. Their voices were so powerful that at times it felt like the audience was watching a Broadway production. Not only was the acting and singing of the cast excellent, the background elements that made the show were the set and stage crew, and the musical orchestra. With nearly one person on each instrument part, the students projected their sound and developed the tone of the musical. Also, the set production helped create a realistic image of what the house and garden would look like. Among the cast, seniors: Alex Baloy, Tyler Brodeur, Becky Buechel, Kevin Dalton, A.J. Gali, Ethan McCallister, Terri Purcell, Connor Relyea, Moriah Richardson, Allyson Scwartz, and Nicole Verive will strongly be missed due to their extraordinary talent on stage. This year’s senior cast will leave behind a legacy that will be hard to surpass. Junior leads including David Stobbe, Eric Brett, and Elizabeth Darlin also brought tremendous talent to the stage. The harmonious blend of West’s finest voices made for a series of performances that were truly ones to remember for the audience as well as everyone involved.