Grandview Heights High School will present "The Secret Garden" as its spring musical March 3-5.

Grandview Heights High School will present "The Secret Garden" as its spring musical March 3-5.

Performances will be held at 8 p.m. March 3 and 4 and at 2 and 8 p.m. on March 5.

Center section general admission tickets cost $10 and side section tickets are $8. Students can purchase general admission tickets for the March 3 performance for $5.

"The Secret Garden" is based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It tells the story of Mary, an orphan girl who comes to live at the home of her uncle and cousin where she discovers a magical secret walled garden.

"It's a departure from the kind of shows we've been doing in recent years," vocal music director Andrew Grega said. "If you're looking for the big exciting choreographed dance numbers, you won't find it here. 'The Secret Garden' has some serious themes about the living and the dead. There are parts of the story dealing with loss that everyone at some point has to deal with in their life."

The original plan was to mount a production of "The Wiz" this year, artistic director Hillary Billups said.

"We didn't decide to change to 'The Secret Garden' until the week of call backs," she said. "The kids came to the auditions prepared for 'The Wiz,' but when we saw the skills and talent they were bringing to the auditions, (Grega and I) turned to each other and said, maybe this is the year" to do "The Secret Garden."

"I've been wanting to do "The Secret Garden" for a some time," Grega said. "But the music is so demanding, we had to wait for the right group of students."

Thanks to a $2,000 grant from the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Education Foundation, the student orchestra will be augmented with a five-piece string section, he said.

"The music is so beautiful and complex, it really demands a full string section and not just a keyboard simulating the sound of strings," Grega said. "It's going to be a great experience for the students to perform with a full string section."

The chance to do a more challenging show - both in music and plot - is both rewarding and fun, said Allison Zawisa, who portrays Alice, a friend of Mary's deceased mother.

"It's a lot different from, say, 'Beauty and the Beast,'" she said. "It's not just some shiny, happy play. There's more substance to it."

Diana Lolli, who portrays Mrs. Winthrop, the headmistress, said the challenging nature of the play is keeping the cast on its toes and helping to bring them together as a team.

"Being in a play, it's like a family," she said. "You get to meet and become friends with people you might not otherwise get to know."

For Brenna McLaughlin, acting is fun "because you're getting the chance to play someone who's different from you.

"I really enjoy it," she said. "Theater is definitely something I'd like to continue to do when I'm in college."

By Paul Vernon/ThisWeek

Phoebe Baker, left, a freshman at Grandview Heights High School, sophomore Lauren Jones and juniors Claudia Esber and Brenna McLaughlin portray photographs in a mansion during a rehearsal of the musical "The Secret Garden" at the school Feb. 19. The school will present the show March 3-5.