Flint Twp., MI—The Flint Community Players have consolidated their performance schedule for “The Secret Garden,” a musical based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, after pushing back the show’s opening weekend due to rising COVID cases in Genesee County.

The Secret Garden is FCP’s first musical offering since quarantine began in March 2020, and it was originally meant to premiere on Thursday, Jan. 13. 

Instead the theater group made the choice to postpone, calling it “an important decision for the health and safety of all involved” in their Facebook announcement. They will now be premiering the show at their home theater at 2462 S. Ballenger Highway on Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Zach Wood, FCP’s artist in residence, said that he was glad FCP was taking his health and the health of its audience seriously. And, he noted, there is a silver lining to the changed schedule.

“We got to add a Saturday matinee,” Wood said, smiling in front of a wall of framed playbills.

Wood said he thought The Secret Garden was the right musical for this moment, when many are coping with loss and experiencing a lot of uncertainty.

“Mary Lennox, the main character, actually deals with a health crisis. She has family that died from a disease,” Wood said, his smile shifting to seriousness. “(The musical) just has a very hopeful message of this idea that even in your darkest moments…there’s always hope. And if you show love to people—and you show compassion—it helps you to be able to move forward.”

A view from the Flint Community Players’ stage. The theater purchased new risers during COVID to create more space between audience members. (Photo courtesy Flint Community Players)

Even before the decision to postpone the musical’s opening dates, COVID made rehearsing for the show a unique experience for FCP’s performers, as well.

“There’s been online rehearsals,” Wood said. “There’s been rehearsals where the director basically was like, ‘Hey, I need you to bring in a recording device. You’re going to record your parts, and then I’m going to send you on your way.’”

Wood said performers have worked separately, in small groups, and in one-on-ones after the director could review recordings.

“It’s sort of been a process where instead of having everyone in the room at the same time, it’s getting groups of people, getting everyone their parts, and then sort of piecing them all together like a puzzle,” Wood said.

The Flint Community Players have been performing in Flint and the greater Flint-area since 1929.

Tickets for The Secret Garden, COVID-19 theater protocols, and other showtimes are listed on FCP’s website.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....