Profile: Encore Theatre’s “The Secret Garden” is a hauntingly beautiful story close to Director Cami Glauser’s heart

“The Secret Garden,” a musical based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is a hauntingly beautiful piece of musical theatre about loss, grief, healing, forgiveness, love, growth, and connection. Cami Glauser, the director/choreographer for the Encore Theatre’s presentation (Nov. 14-Dec. 22), says the story and its emotional themes are “close to my heart.”

And when you hear Glauser talk about her personal connection to “The Secret Garden” it’s easy to see that this important play is in very capable – and most importantly, loving – hands.

“In 2006, my father passed away from brain cancer,” says Glauser. “These past 13 years have been a journey, and continue to be, as I navigate the loss of our relationship, healing the parts of myself that long for his presence, and most of all learning to love the moments we had, while also forgiving the moments we won’t experience together.

“This story is close to my heart because it gives me the opportunity to shed light on some of those emotions I have experienced in this journey with my father. This musical leaves me with a strong sense of truth, healing and love. My hope is that it does the same for our audience and this community, especially during this holiday season.”

Glauser, now an actor, director, and theatre and yoga teacher who lives in Louisville, KY, graduated with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

Originally from St. George, UT, Glauser’s impressive directing resume includes: Snow White and The Prince (Derby Dinner Playhouse), The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (StageOne Family Theatre), Click and Diary of Break-up/Breakdown (Pittsburgh Playhouse). Some other directing projects currently in the works are Seussical and Peter in the Starcatcher at Floyd Central Theatre, in Georgetown, IN.

A few of her favorite shows as an actor have included: Shrek (Fiona), Oklahoma (Ado Annie), Wizard of Oz (Dorothy), Mamma Mia (Lisa), 25th Annual … Spelling Bee (Olive), and the International Tours (U.K. and China) of Dreamworks: Madagascar Live!

Speaking of favorites, Glauser describes The Encore Theater Music Company as an “absolute diamond of art in the heart of Dexter!”

“First and foremost, the generous, kind, hardworking team of people that make this theatre what it is,” she says. “It’s evident that they all come from a place of love – love of the theatre, and love of the community around them. They also encourage their team, like myself, to think outside the box and are open to unique, challenging, beautiful pieces of theatre. That is an uncommon quality to have in the professional theatre world and it’s incredibly refreshing as a director/creator!

“I also want to mention my deep love of their beautiful, malleable, intimate space. It truly makes your experience at Encore unlike any other.”

For “The Secret Garden,” music directed by Tyler Driskill and R. Mackenzie Lewis, Encore Musical Theatre Company has assembled another terrific cast and crew, one their wonderful director is grateful to have tell this moving story. In fact, she says she couldn’t be more grateful with the “incredibly smart and talented” cast!

“This is a giant ensemble piece of theatre and all the characters play an integral part of the storytelling,” Glauser says. “This show is so smartly written and constructed with a dynamic group of characters that are playful, wise, funny, poignant, smart, honest, and so much more. Our ensemble of players take these characters and bring their own uniqueness to them that really bring the show to life in a new way!”

Joely Englebert (last seen in Fun Home at Encore) and Lily Wright, both play Mary Lennox, and are “true talents, both vocally and acting wise,” she says.

“They both bring such honesty to the role, and provide Mary with such beautiful shades of colors that makes you immediately root for her from the moment you see her, all the way to very end,” Glauser raved. “Jay Montgomery (last seen in Little Night Music at Encore) comes from the core, as he brings his incredible knowledge and Broadway talent to the role of Archibald. And, of course, Sarah Stevens (most recently seen in Fun HomeCrazy for You, and countless other Encore productions), plays our Lily and knows how to  beautifully draw the audience in with her soaring vocal quality, striking eyes, and smart choices as an actor.

“Trust me, you don’t want to miss this cast!”

And you don’t want to miss this story – guided with the emotional, caring and personal hand of its outstanding director.

“With ‘The Secret Garden,’  Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon orchestrated the perfect book, lyrics, and music that knows how to seamlessly pull at these guttural emotions that we’ve all experienced in some form or fashion in this lifetime,” Glauser says. “Whether we’ve lost someone close to us, or are healing from a relationship that ended, or perhaps this story is close to us because of the well-known novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, I think these core truths can speak to so many of us.”

What: ​THE SECRET GARDEN When: November 14th, 2019 through December 22nd 2019. Venue: The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 3126 Broad St, Dexter MI 48130

The Secret Garden officially opens Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. with a performance followed by an opening night reception. Tickets: Adults – $36, Seniors – $34, Groups of 10 or Children Under 17 – $32

TO PURCHASE TICKETS: Call (734-268-6200) or come into our box office (3126 Broad St, Dexter MI 48130). ONLINE|

CAST Archibald: Jay Montgomery Neville: Barton Bund Lily: Sarah B. Stevens Mary: Lily Wright & Jojo Engelbert Mrs. Medlock: Mary Rumman Martha: Dawn Purcell Ben Weatherstaff: Mark Bernstein Dickon: Tyler J. Messinger Colin: Caden Martel Rose Lennox: Taylor Towers Albert Lennox: Dan Morrison Alice: Angela Hench Lieutenant Wright: Jake Jedele Lieutenant Shaw: Mitchell Hardy Mrs. Shelly: Natalie Sevick Major Holmes: Michael Szymanski Claire Holmes/ Mrs. Winthrop: Rachael Cupples

CREATIVE Director: Cami Glauser Music Director: Tyler Driskill & R.Mackenzie Lewis Choreographer: Cami Glauser Scenic Designer: Jacqulin Stauder Lighting Designer: Nicklas Casella Sound Designer: Megan Berg Costume Designer: Sharon Urick Properties Designer: Anne Donevan