LOS ANGELES – Gardens can be magical places, even if that garden is your own garden.
Sadie Reynolds loves to stroll through hers and smell the many herbs and fruits that grow there.
“We grow rosemary, lavender, apples, pomegranates and lemons,” she listed, pausing to point out one in particular. “Lavender. This is where the bees hang out.”
Sadie even has her own special place, though it’s not among all her fragrant blooms.
“It’s a journey,” she giggled as she passed through a gate and down a stone path that snaked under a low branch and around the side of the house.
That’s Sadie’s secret spot – her happy place, as she put it, where she goes when she needs some rest.
“I’ll bring a little pillow,” she said. “I usually take some kind of beach towel and put it here. It’s just always been a very peaceful place for me.”
However, over the next few months, Sadie will be spending a lot of time in another garden. The 11-year-old has just been cast as Mary Lennox in a production of The Secret Garden, which opens at Ahmanson early next year. She says her mother, Nora Brickman, heard about the open appeal on social media and brought her with her. It was her first professional musical audition.
“We got word that I got the part and that was really exciting,” Sadie said, a bright smile spreading across her face.
That would be a big deal for any kid, but it’s a dream come true for Sadie. She admitted she’s obsessed with musical theater, a seed planted fairly early on when her mom played music from “Wicked” in the car.
“And that was it,” Sadie said. “I just knew that I love musical theater.”
That love and Sadie’s natural talent have been well cultivated ever since. She comes from a family of artists. Her father is a musician and her mother is a dancer. Even her little brother Hudson plays drums.
As for the sixth grade rising star, Sadie attends performing arts school, has worked as a voice talent and acted on camera. But despite being on stage since she was a child, she says Sadie has never done theater professionally — and certainly not in a house this big.
Entering the Ahmanson for only the second time, Sadie was in awe. The only other time she’s been there was as a spectator a few months ago, unaware that her turn was just around the corner.
“I mean, I saw it [“The Prom”] and I was like, ‘Wow, that must be great to be there,'” she recalled, looking through the empty theater at the main stage. “And I’m actually going to perform there, and I can’t believe it.”
Mary Lennox is an iconic role in literature and Broadway history. Daisy Eagan was 11 when she played the role in the original cast and became the youngest female actress to win a Tony Award for Best Actress. Sadie will work alongside Sierra Boggess, Broadway’s original Little Mermaid.
It has been more than 30 years since The Secret Garden opened on Broadway and the show, produced by the Center Theater Group, has been reimagined by the original creative team, including composer Lucy Simon, who died last month at the age of 82.
The show begins on February 19 and Sadie’s mother, Nora, is already preparing to bring several boxes of tissues. She remembers listening to the songs with Sadie as she prepared for her callback.
“You started crying,” Sadie said.
“It was like tears were being squeezed out of my tear ducts,” Nora confirmed. “It just all happened, and I could just see you singing so clearly up there, like such a clear vision of it. I was so overjoyed and so touched that other people were seeing what we see in you every day.”
Rehearsals will start soon. But in the meantime, Sadie is researching the role, reading the book and practicing her British accent. She has always dreamed of a career in musical theater and this opportunity makes her feel like anything is possible.
“I’m really grateful for this role because it’s just the world for me,” she said.
Gazing at the giant ornate banner hanging in front of the theater announcing the upcoming show, Sadie seems to be getting brighter by the minute – a rising star blossoming right here on her home soil.