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My name is Timber Ziegler and I’m playing Fakir in Decatur Underground Theater's production of The Secret Garden The Musical. This show is absolutely beautiful, and I can guarantee there won’t be a dry eye in the house- not even on the stage. Come see for yourself the last two weeks of March 2023.

I’m no stranger to the Decatur Underground Theater stage.

The Secret Garden is my ninth musical theater production with DUT!

I was just sixteen when I was welcomed into the company to be a part of The Marvelous Wonderettes. I was asked to play the sweet, funny, sort of dumb, and hugely pregnant character. I’ll be honest this was the biggest role I had ever played at that point, and I certainly had never played anything like this, so I was a little nervous. But I set my mind to doing my best and had a wonderful group of people cheering me on. Those silly, funny roles are some of my absolute favorites to play now!

That’s what I love about theatre and about this company. There is always support, love, laughter, and fun that come with a DUT show.

Outside of Decatur Underground, I’m a student at Richland Community College, and I do theatre and dance pretty much anywhere you’ll let me. It’s so wonderful that we have communities like Decatur Underground in Decatur so that we can share the passion we have for theatre!

Plus, you're likely to meet new people who, by the end of a show, become some of your closest friends!

I’m proud to add The Secret Garden The Musical to my resume, and I’m thrilled to share this story with audiences here in Decatur. It's a story of hope and redemption and happy endings based on the 1911 novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The music is gorgeous, and we have a cast that truly delivers in both their acting and vocal performances.

Don’t miss out on this one!!

Timber Ziegler, Cast Member: The Secret Garden - Fakir

DUT is Decatur's Premier Musical Theater Company, bringing Awesome Musical Theater to Decatur, IL Since 2010.

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The Secret Garden The Musical - Decatur Underground Theater

By: Ryan Rinchiuso - Major Holmes | The Secret Garden

A famous quote from photographer Graciela Iturbide says, “In the end, photography for me is just an excuse to get to know the world.” I agree with this quote and think of it a lot when I am taking both photos and videos. When you hit the record or shoot button you capture a moment that will never be seen again.

In The Secret Garden The Musical, I play Major Holmes. During rehearsals, I am concerned about what I am supposed to be doing now and in the future. I am listening for my cue or getting in to position to come on stage that I don’t have much time to focus on the world around me.

In my work life, I am a teacher at Heartland Technical Academy, and I teach juniors and seniors business practices and branding using digital tools. One of the big aspects of the class is how to make a documentary to advertise a company/brand. This semester one of those videos is about Decatur Underground Theater ( DUT ) and the behind the scenes journey of putting on The Secret Garden.

Two of the students in the class have taken the reins of this video and they are doing a wonderful job making short videos showcasing multiple people and facets of the production. When I am helping edit the rough cuts with them, my eyes are opened to so much of what is going on during the run-up to the show that I don’t see, and it is amazing! To see the making of this show laid out and captured when no one is worrying about the camera and doing their best to make the show a huge success is exciting to watch.

The video footage depicts the choreographer in the background learning his lines but also sneaking a look at the blocking to make sure no one needs his help. The videos capture the director smiling because he can’t help but be excited when a person nails the delivery of a line. The documentary shows cast members with tears in their eyes when they first hear other members of the cast sing their solos/duets beautifully. It captures the beauty and magic of community theater at its finest - displayed most fully in musicals.

Decatur Underground Theater is a community onto itself, and putting on a musical like The Secret Garden takes the *whole* community. Being able to understand what a massive undertaking this is has been a humbling experience for the class and me.

The directors, cast and crew are putting in countless hours to give Decatur, Illinois, a show that will not be forgotten.

It is so easy to worry about just your part and not to look at the whole story, and I am glad that I got this chance to look through that viewfinder on the camera and expose me to the whole creation of The Secret Garden. Trust me and the camera when I say... you don’t want to miss this show.

See The Secret Garden The Musical, brought to the Decatur community by Decatur Underground Theater, at the Decatur Civic Center on March 24-26 and March 31-April 2, and follow us on Facebook to see some of the videos.

Ryan Rinchiuso, Cast Member: The Secret Garden - Major Holmes

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By: Aubrey Hawkinson - Martha | The Secret Garden

My name is Aubrey Hawkinson and I have the pleasure of playing Martha in The Secret Garden The Musical - my first ever production with Decatur Underground Theater - DUT. I moved to Decatur four years ago (right before the pandemic) from Los Angeles, but I have been involved with music and theater all around the country. My degrees are in opera, and I've been blessed with many amazing performance experiences with so many amazing performers and vocal artists in New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and California. I've been lucky enough to sing with the New York philharmonic orchestra in premiere venues and was in a televised production of Carmen at the Ford Amphitheater in Los Angeles.

When I moved with my family to Decatur, I was anxious to find opportunities to perform, and then the world shut down. Singing was outlawed. So was theater. After a while, live theater felt like a distant dream. Since the world reopened, I've been so grateful for any chance I get to sing in the presence of fellow music lovers.

The act of singing with other humans is healing and joyous, and I never take it for granted.

Community theater is a unique experience that even professionals don't always get a taste of. Professional performers at the top houses in the country get applause at the end of each show, but community theater performers get applause from people who genuinely love them. It's an amazing feeling to know a truly loving group of family and friends are the ones sending the energy back to you on stage. The Secret Garden character 'Martha' is such an amazing character, and I'm thrilled to bring her to life.

I have an interesting history with my character Martha's song Hold On. Back when I was around 10 years old, our church put on a variety show, and one of the teenage church members sang Hold On. I had never heard the song before, and I was so impressed by its power and gorgeous melody. I asked the girl's mother what the song was, and she said, "oh, my girl wrote that." I was stunned! It was such an amazing song for a teenager from middle-of-nowhere Arizona to have written.

I took it upon myself to learn the song from hearing her sing it in rehearsals and on the VHS recording (yes, kids, that used to be a thing) of the performance.

A week or so later, my friend's mother was in the hospital, and we went to visit her. I sang her that amazing song that the girl from my church had written, and it made her cry. YEARS later, I heard a student sing Hold On in a university recital, and I was floored. How did she know that church kid's song?!?!? I looked at the program and saw that Hold On was written by someone named Lucy Simon!

I had been lied to. My whole world was a sham.

But it was FAR more believable that Hold On was not written by that church teenager. It made sense.

I've absolutely loved getting to know the Decatur community and cast members of Decatur Underground Theater ( DUT ). I'm also thrilled to be performing with fellow castmates Christian and Alicia Jackson. My husband and I work at Millikin and knew Christian and Alicia as former Millikin students. My husband mentored Christian during his first professional years as a teacher, and I actually graded Alicia's senior recital (which was, of course, phenomenal). It's been a joy to work with them as well as everyone else in this production of The Secret Garden The Musical. The Secret Garden story is near and dear to my heart as I share a kinship with the character of Colin.

I lost my mother at the age of 4, and the character of Lilly is so similar to my mother's spirit. Every time she appears, it is a tearful catharsis for my adult self. It's such a beautiful story that is relatable to so many because, as a wise man once said, "remember that everyone is always in some stage of grieving".

One who may be grieving the loss of a loved one, grieving in a time of transition, or even feeling stuck in a chapter of life can relate to someone in this story.

There will be many healing tears had by the audience.

DUT is Decatur's Premier Musical Theater Company, bringing Awesome Musical Theater to Decatur, IL Since 2010.

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