Immerse yourself in the world of The Secret Garden: aerialist birds, acrobatic plants, juggling and jump-roping children, and storytelling that will move you to tears and laughter.
Circus Center, San Francisco’s premiere circus training center since 1984, presents the beloved childhood tale The Secret Garden over four weekends this summer at the Children’s Creativity Museum. Adapted and directed by Felicity Hesed with acrobatic design by Evan Tomlinson Weintraub, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved tale of resilience and renewal is brought to life like never before with an original blend of circus performance and classic storytelling. Tickets are currently on sale and available at circuscenter.org.
“Do roses die when they are forgotten?”
After a pandemic leaves young Mary Lennox orphaned, she is sent to live with her estranged uncle in a mysterious manor filled with secrets. When Mary discovers the gardens outside, a world of possibilities is revealed.
Adapter and director Felicity Hesed is Circus Center’s Artistic Director. She specializes in creating story-driven, circus experiences. “Unlike many people,” says Hesed, “ I did not read The Secret Garden as a child. I first stumbled upon it during the pandemic. I was immediately struck by its poignant themes of trauma, grief, and isolation. I connected to the characters who found solace and healing in nature, playing, and community.” The book’s vivid, anthropomorphic descriptions of gardens and plant life inspired Felicity to use circus movements to express Mary’s imagination and perception of reality. The show is similar to a musical, but instead of characters breaking into song, they break into circus! It gives the world of the play a magical realism: a robin literally takes flight on a trapeze, the spooky shadows in a hallway lift and toss around an exploring child, and a garden awakens from dormancy into handstands and flips.
“As someone who has worked in theater and circus, separately and together, for decades, The Secret Garden was a thrill to watch,” said Jeff Raz, former Cirque du Soleil performer and author of The Secret Life of Clowns. “The story is seamless and the style beguiles you into a world that is complete and enthralling. The languages of circus and theater beautifully complement each other, often in ways that I have never seen before. For audiences young and old, it is a magic story well told; for folks in the performing arts, it is a revelation.”
This unique production features a multi-generational cast of professional actors, circus artists, and exceptional youth from the San Francisco Youth Circus (SFYC). The San Francisco Youth Circus is well known for training youth who go on to successful careers as circus artists. Graduates of the San Francisco Youth Circus have worked for the biggest circus companies including Cirque du Soleil and the 7 Fingers. Many SFYC alumni have even performed in Dear San Francisco. Evan Tomlinson Weintraub, acrobatic designer for The Secret Garden, got his start as a child in the San Francisco Youth Circus. He has enjoyed returning to Circus Center to train the next generation between his contracts on Cirque du Soleil’s holiday show ‘Twas the Night Before.
Adapter and Director: Felicity Hesed
Acrobatic Designer: Evan Tomlinson Weintraub
Choreographer: Lex Baesen
Stage Manager: Charis Lam
Scenic/Properties Design: Jack Weinstock
Costume Design: Victoria Ordeman
Graphic Design: Fernando Gambaroni
Executive Producer: Barry Kendall
Mary Lennox (double cast): Mia Fan / Tovah Knight
Colin Craven (double cast): Eliza Annunziata / Giovanni HunzekerHesed
Dickon: Solena Solomon
The Robin: Lex Baesen
Ben Weatherstaff: Thuan Lieu
Mr. Craven: Vince Faso
Mrs. Medlock: Adrienne Fair
Martha Sowerby: Ava Maag
Young Archie Craven: Leo Lefevre
Lily Craven: Mikayla Dinsdale
Ensemble: Cole Jayme, Ksenia Kriksunov, Mackenzie Pike, Giamaica Zeidler
Main Image: Final Pyramid - The Ensemble hold Mia Fan as Colin Craven (left), Solena Solomon as Mary Lennox (center), and Yasmina Bourdais as Dickon (right) in a pyramid. Circus Center, world premiere in 2022. All images are @Fernando Gambaroni
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