Jenn Mamchur is a self-proclaimed dreamer, much like the character she’s playing in the Broadway musical adaptation of The Secret Garden on stage this week.
The 36-year-old Walnut Grove woman read for the role of Martha, listened to her songs, and instantly knew: “Martha was for me!”
Turns out Mamchur was selected as part of the 21-member cast in Gallery 7 Theatre’s presentation of The Secret Garden, which started today (Friday, March 17) and runs until next Saturday, March 25 in Abbotsford.
“Martha, like me, is a sturdy girl, who has a wild imagination, is full of hope, and doesn’t give up on her dreams,” Mamchur shared with the Langley Advance Times.
“Martha and I are both dreamers of impossible dreams – and as I’ve been told quite often – big balls of sunshine and light.”
Admittedly, Mamchur’s biggest dream in life – to become an actor – went unanswered until recently.
“I have always loved acting – since I was a very young child – and jumped at any chance to act in school plays, made up skits on my own, and convinced friends to join in plays if written. As I got older, I realized this, acting, was something I wanted to pursue as a career.”
Even though Mamchur knew she wanted to act, being a teenager fresh out of high school she was unclear how she to make her dream a reality.
“I did a whole host of things, from elementary program coordinating to administration assistant, and even barista, before deciding to just take a risk,” explained the Langley-born woman.
Mamchur headed back to school in her early 30s and just recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of fine arts in acting.
While she was part of seven productions at TWU, and took on several roles helping with costumes for the on-campus play, this is the first time Mamchur is taking to the stage as an actor for Gallery 7. On stage being the key words. She did, however, in recent past worked with Gallery 7 in their Zoom production of Macbeth, and served as a costume designer with their showings of Magician’s Nephew and A Christmas Carol.
“During the pandemic I got involved in doing some zoom shows with Gallery 7, and promised myself I would audition for a show once I finished my degree – and here we are,” she said, counting down the days and hours until the curtain officially goes up on The Secret Garden.
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Mamchur is pretty excited to now be realizing her dream – or at least be on her way.
She still works full-time as a barista to pay the bills, doing as much acting on the side as possible – as well as continuing to dabble in costume design.
“It’s often hard to fit it all in my life, but acting is what I love to do and what I want to do – so I might sleep less or prioritize singing and dancing and acting over other things in my life. But, the pay off makes it all worth it,” she elaborated.
“I would just want to encourage others, that if there is something they want to do with their life, to not give up on it. If you love doing something, take that risk. I did, and I have no regrets. Acting brings me life – and I can’t imagine my life without it.”
The cast and crew have been working on this show for months. They started vocal rehearsals in December, then switched to in-person rehearsals twice a week early in the year. More recently , they’ve amped up the efforts to three days a week, for several hours at a time, working on scenes, song, and dance.
While Mamchur is confident she’s ready to bring Martha to life on stage this week, she admitted one of her biggest struggles has beeing trying to get the accent right.
“The funniest moments for me are when I’m in my car and saying things in my Yorkshire acccent. For example, at one point I just kept saying the Lord’s Prayer or random nonsense – and it just made me laugh and smile,” often wondering what passersby might be thinking if only they could hear her.
The Secret Garden runs March 17 and 18, as well as March 21 to 25, at 7:30 p.m., with matinees on March 18 and 25 at 2 p.m. at the Abbotsford Arts Centre, 2329 Crescent Way.
Tickets and more information can be found at www.gallery7theatre.com or by calling 604-504-5940. A livestream option is also available.
“If you want to hear a story about hope, home, and healing, please come. This show is such a beacon of hope in our often dark and lonely world,” Mamchur concluded, encouraging people to check out the production.
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MORE ABOUT THE SHOW
Gallery 7 is presenting The Secret Garden, the award-winning musical based on the beloved novel by Frances Burnett Hodgson, with book and lyrics by Marsha Norman and music by Lucy Simon.
It’s a story of hope, forgiveness, and renewal, described Ken Hildebrandt, Gallery 7’s executive and artistic director.
“We’re delighted to finally be presenting this award-winning and most beautiful musical,” he noted.
“We had to put the show on hold just two weeks from opening back in 2020. We’ve revived the sets, dusted off the props, reconstructed the costumes, welcomed a host of new and talented performers and we’re ready to share this special show with the world,” Hildebrandt shared.
He offered an overview of the storyline, for those interested in taking in the show.
Orphaned in India, young Mary Lennox journeys back to England to live with her reclusive Uncle Archie and his invalid son, Colin. Struggling to come to terms with her new life at Misselthwaite Manor, with its ghostly hallways and vast moors, Mary discovers an abandoned secret garden hidden away on the estate. A story of healing emerges as Mary dedicates herself to restoring the garden to its former glory and forges new friendships with an eclectic mix of intriguing characters along the way. Winner of the 1991 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, this powerful story will warm hearts and refresh spirits.
“I think this production is so timely”, Hildebrandt commented.
“I trust that it will be an entertaining and cathartic theatre experience for people. The music is some of the most beautiful show music I’ve heard, and the production is faithful to the source material. There are themes that will engage audiences of all ages, and will put a smile on people’s faces.”
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