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Updated: Mar 15, 2023

By: Oliver Weber - Dickon | The Secret Garden

Like many of you, I grew up in an area where there doesn’t seem like there's a whole lot to do.

A risky decision...

Living in a small rural community, days are often spent by going to sporting events, tending to the farm, and late-night trips to Walmart. So, I decided to branch out from the normal trends of our area and take a risk. That risk was joining musical theater and later connecting with Decatur Underground Theater. After fifteen years of musical theater and three years with Decatur Underground, I can happily say it’s the best decision I have ever made in my life.

One of the things I love the most is the sense of "community" that surrounds community theatre. It can be life changing - it has been for me. The wonderful community that Decatur Underground Theater (DUT) brings is second to none. You get a sense of home and family by just seeing DUT's wonderful shows. I believe if you take the risk to come see DUT's production of The Secret Garden The Musical just once, it could change your life too!

Theater shaped me into the person I am today. I was only four years old when I first discovered the fine arts and this thing called "theatre." I started performing on stage, and there I found myself and the person I dreamt of being. When on stage, you are whoever you want to be, whoever your character is, and people applaud you regardless of who you are. After a few years amongst theater lovers, I learned to love myself and live what I love.

My lifelong goal is to bring smiles to those who need them most.

Theatre is a way to do that.

The door's open, come on in....

Fast forward to now, and I am still enjoying theater and especially enjoy the community theatre

that I can call home - Decatur Underground Theater. Decatur Underground is a unique, welcoming family of friends who love performing, building sets, helping out as stage crew, theater (musicals in particular), and all things theatre related. Whatever your interest or giftings, you have a place in the DUT family - come on home.

After a decade and a half of musical theatre, professional and community, and fine arts, I try to inspire other boys who haven’t felt supported to pursue the arts. A mom came up to me one day at a high school game and said her son saw me dancing with the girls' dance team, and it “made [him] feel like it was ok for him to be a boy dancer too.” She later shared that seeing my performance changed his entire demeanor at school.

Take a risk...

Even if you think you are not the type to enjoy musical theatre, take the risk. Check it out yourself, and maybe even bring your family, and come The Secret Garden ~ The Musical. There you will see me play Dickon and many other amazing actors and actresses I can happily call my friends, bringing a classic story to life.

There is no better place to catch live theater in Decatur, Illinois, than with the Decatur Underground Theater.

Show dates for The Secret Garden are March 24th through 26th and March 31 through April 2nd at the Decatur Civic Center. The entire DUT family (me included) will be thrilled to see you there!

Take a risk... get your tickets HERE.

Oliver Robert Weber, Cast Member: The Secret Garden - Dickon

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

copyright 2023 Decatur Underground Theater Corporation

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Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Secret Garden - Decatur IL - special treat

By: Christian Jackson - Vocal Director + Dr. Neville Craven | The Secret Garden

Decatur has never experienced community theatre like Decatur Underground Theater's upcoming show - The Secret Garden The Musical. The music is incredible, the script tugs at your heartstrings, and the cast is phenomenal. What's not to love?

During Decatur Underground’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (I played Jacob), Sandra Revis, President and CEO of DUT, asked me if I would be interested in Music Directing the next show. “Probably, it just depends on how familiar I am with the show and how hard the music is, ” was my response.

Later, when our director, Brad, called me and told me we were doing The Secret Garden, I immediately agreed without even thinking about how difficult the music is and how large of a task I was signing up for. I knew I loved the music, I knew it was a production I had to be involved in, and I knew Decatur was in for a treat.

I teach music in Decatur Public Schools and serve as Worship Leader at Lampstand Church.

I do music all day... everyday.

I’m used to taking the music from the piece of paper, making it come out of students' mouths, and molding and shaping it into something my students are proud of. I was prepared to take the same approach with DUT’s production until I sat through auditions. The talent we saw come through the doors of the Civic Center for this musical was jaw-dropping.

All of our performers in The Secret Garden The Musical have community theatre backgrounds, and some cast members even have professional theatre experience. Our Mrs. Medlock is played by an English/Theatre teacher who works at some local schools and colleges and has professional theatre experience. Our Martha is played by an active professional singer and voice teacher.

On the other hand, we have a plethora of performers who are not currently working in music or theatre professionally. We have fourth graders, high schoolers, and all types of adults working in all sorts of areas. We have healthcare professionals, teachers, and scientists. And that doesn't include the talented people doing all sorts of things behind the scenes to pull this production together.

Our performers did not need me to teach them how to sing, or where to breathe, or how to be in a musical. They are dedicated, experienced, and talented individuals.

This will be one of the best community theatre productions Decatur has seen.

We have a cast like none other.

Don’t take my word for it, come and see The Secret Garden The Musical - March 24-26 & March 31-April 2 at the Decatur Civic Center.

Tickets are available HERE .

See you then!

Christian Jackson, Cast Member: The Secret Garden - Dr. Neville Craven

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

copyright 2023 Decatur Underground Theater Corporation

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Many "good ideas" don't make it. Ask any entrepreneur about the success rate of new startups. An estimated 90% don't succeed, with most failing within the first 2-4 years.

When Decatur Underground Theater started in 2010, we had our fair share of naysayers. We were different, and we (at least by community theatre standards) were weird. Fair enough. Although we had other mad skills, we openly admitted we knew little about community theater. We weren't totally clueless, though. We knew how to make large productions (like rock concerts) happen and had good organizational skills.

In any case, a lack of knowledge about community theatre turned out to be an advantage for Decatur Underground. It allowed DUT some flexibility and maybe even permission to break the mold (and we did).

Some local detractors openly pointed out that we 'didn't know what we were doing' in 2010 and would quickly fail.

Our response: Watch us.

It was openly predicted that DUT would fail. But we didn't. Why not? Well, it turns out - for DUT - it was never just about the show. We were different in many ways. One way we only do musical theater (the show itself), but that was just part of what we were doing.

We were having fun. But we weren't just having fun. We were on a mission, and that mission was Decatur, Illinois. We had a (different) model we were creating for our community theatre company, and the secret sauce that made the model work factored into the mission.

Community Theatre Secret Sauce

The mission is why we didn't pattern DUT after anyone else. It's why DUT is unique and isn't dependent on anything or anyone else. We're happy to share what the ingredients that make up the secret sauce looked (and still do) like. It's this not-so-secret combination of things:

  1. OPPORTUNITY: Providing opportunities for those who may have never anticipated or gotten the chance to perform on stage in a musical or theatre in general or with no experience or connection with community theatre, in general, was necessary (but having vocal talent would for sure be beneficial for those aspiring to perform onstage)...

  2. OPTIONS: Providing additional opportunities for the community for high-quality, affordable entertainment (not in a bar or club)... at an affordable price...

  3. EXCELLENCE: Expect the best possible results from ourselves and our people - from those performing on-stage to those behind the scenes - always striving for excellence and giving them everything they need to succeed, and they will produce (it works in business, why not in musical theater?)...

  4. LOVE PEOPLE: Operate our company in a way that isn't necessarily "religious," per se, but inherently expresses and demonstrates the love of Christ to everyone involved in our company in ways that recognize each person as a valuable human being, made in the image of God (imago dei), deserving of love and respect. We each may have different perspectives on some things, but respecting each other is paramount...

  5. ETHICAL/MORAL: Function in a way that recognizes the importance of ethical and moral practices and holds people accountable - from the board to performers to backstage and behind-the-scenes volunteers. Ethical standards are non-negotiables...

  6. GIVE BACK: Giving back to the community in unique and tangible ways is essential. That includes the shows we produce but also in other tangible ways beyond the show itself. For example, providing a delicious Nelson's Chicken Dinner to every police officer, firefighter, EMT, and dispatcher in the city on our Nelson's Fundraiser Day (last time that was approximately 80 first responders) or helping get animals in shelters get adopted, or helping kids. We love Decatur and want to give back...

  7. MISSION BELIEVERS: we rely on a core team of dedicated, hard-working, awesome people who freely give their time and talents (and often other resources) to help us all succeed in carrying out our community theater mission with excellence - for the sake of our hometown, Decatur, Illinois.

The other piece of the model not mentioned above focuses on doing well-known Broadway musicals - shows that people will recognize and have proven their desirability, popularity, and staying power (mainly because of their incredible score).

It all works (at least for us).

In 2011, despite the unparalleled success of both Jesus Christ Superstar and Miss Saigon, some in the community still thought DUT was a flash in the pan and would never last. They didn't taste the secret sauce. Decatur's Lincoln Square Theater had not seen packed crowds like that (or crowds of any sort) in more than two decades. In our 13th year, the Decatur Underground Theater (DUT) experiment proved successful. We're still cranking out awesome musical theater and contributing to the Decatur community.

We're not going anywhere. The DUT secret sauce is delicioius.

There are plenty of things to do in Decatur... if you look. But, still, Decatur has both a desire and a need for even more things to do. We're just one part of a lot of great things that are happening in Decatur, Illinois.

We are not alone.

No, that isn't a Close Encounters reference. There are three excellent community theatre companies (DUT, Theatre 7, and Midsummer Moon), not to mention Millikin's Pipe Dreams Theatre and curricular theatre programs, as well as Kirkland. There are plenty of opportunities for each of us to contribute; our community has no shortage of need for what we all can provide. We can all contribute.

The Secret Garden The Musical

The Decatur community has repeatedly responded fabulously to DUT's high-quality musical theatre productions. Get ready - The Secret Garden The Musical is coming. The Decatur community is about to get their socks blown off yet again with DUT's production of The Secret Garden.

DUT's The Secret Garden The Musical production will hit the stage at the Decatur Civic Center Theater on March 24-26 and Mar 31-Apr 2.

So, for people asking, "what is there to do in Decatur?" - coming up the last two weekends in March 2023, check out Decatur Underground's production of The Secret Garden The Musical at the Decatur Civic Center. You will be blown away by the vocal talent that is right here in our community.

Tickets for -The Secret Garden The Musical - are now available HERE.

We're still giving back. I look forward to you at The Secret Garden!

Tim Revis, Co-founder & Trustee - Decatur Underground Theater

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

copyright 2023 Decatur Underground Theater Corporation

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