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L.A. Beat

Fran Rude to retire with one last LSCO Fundraiser: The Secret Garden

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Lethbridge theatre mainstay Fran Rude, who won the Joan Waterfield Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in the arts this year says farewell with her last production of  the musical The Secret Garden, Nov.10-12.


“We all have to retire some time,” said Rude recovering from a broken hip but is excited to collaborate again with Ken Rogers on the Tony award winning musical “The Secret Garden, to raise money for LSCO programming.


Fran Rude is excited about her last LSCO  fundraiser, The Secret Garden.Photo by Richard Amery

 It is a “heartwarming tale of hope, family and the transformative power of Nature” inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel. The LSCO fundraising show runs at the Yates Theatre 7:30 p.m.  Nov. 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.


“It’s a lovely story and the music is beautiful,” Rude said.


“It’s about a girl whose family  dies in a cholera outbreak in India in 1910 so she goes to live with her uncle in Yorkshire, England. He lost his wife so he learns to love again,” summarized Ken Rogers, who is excited about  working with a handpicked cast of 35, though they auditioned for the two child roles,  plus a live orchestra of 18, mostly members of the Lethbridge Symphony orchestra, concentrating on strings.


“ The two children are outstanding and remarkable,” Rude enthused.

“There are 33 musical numbers in this show. The musical score is absolutely gorgeous. It’s very orchestral. They are sumptuous and the strings are stunning,” Rogers said, noting there are solos, duos, trios and quartets  sprinkled throughout the performance.


“The musicians come from all walks of life,” he said.

 “We handpicked the cast for people we knew could play the roles. We’ve been working in the local theatre community for so long, we knew who would be best for the roles,” he said

 Rogers is excited to collaborate with Rude one last time on a large scale fundraiser for the LSCO and decided to choose a show that would be a guaranteed hit, as  The LSCO  put their money on the line to produce the show.


“We didn’t want to choose a show that won’t sell  out,” he said, noting tickets are going fast. Closing night is almost sold out already.

Rude worked with Rogers on a smaller scale production of the musical in 1986.

“It’s staged quite differently,” Rude said, adding the musicians are on stage with the actors.

There are a lot of familiar faces in the cast including  Universty of lethbridge alumni and students, veterans of p LMT And previous Fran Rude Ken Rogers  productions like Titanic  including Brenton Taylor plus Darrell Croft and Kate Connolly.


“ Kate has the only non singing role,” Rude observed.


“ We‘ve done that before with Titanic and Jesus Christ Superstar. This is going to be a really different, experience ” she said, not wanting to spoil the experience.

“ We’re living in difficult times where  supporting family and life is  more important. This play stresses the importance of family,” Rude said.

“ Even though it takes place in colonial times in 1910, it is still a very relatable story of a girl whose parents die in a cholera outbreak and goes to live with her uncle in Yorkshire, England,” she said noting the Secret Garden is an important fundraiser for the LSCO.


“ Entertainment really suffered during the pandemic. The LSCO provides important programming for seniors,” she said.

“ It is absolutely enjoyable and  the music is beautiful,” she said.


 Rude is proud to win the Joan Waterfield award , which is  in honour of her long time mentor, Joan Waterfield.

“I knew Joan very well. She convinced me to start directing. I  Since spending time with her, I’ve directed 60 shows. but it‘s time to retire. Everybody needs to retire  sometimes,” Rude said.

“ The Secret Garden” is a “heartwarming tale of hope, family and the  transformative power  of Nature” inspired by Frances  Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel. The LSCO fundraising show runs at 7:30 p.m. each night and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.


 Tickets are $45 for adults,  $25 for 12 and under.  They are available at the Yates Theatre and Enmax Centre box office.

 The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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