‘Stones in The Secret Garden’ by Brent Stone

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Whenever I see a Stone perform on the stage I always see a performer who gives 200% and whose joy of performing glows on his face. The Secret Garden has a lot of meaning for Brent Stone and his sons Nick and Alex.

Brent tells us why:

The Secret Garden has a special place in my family’s heart. When my oldest son, Nick, and I played Colin and Archibald Craven respectively in McLean Community Players’ 2007 rendition, it was, in itself, an unusual opportunity to perform together. But more than that, to perform as father and son characters in this powerful production was especially gratifying. The emotions of love and caring were rather easy to ‘conjure’ up when working with your own child on stage. And seeing Alex play the counter-point of Dickon, bringing his own positive energy to this exciting role, it felt for our family as if we had come full circle.

Nick and Brent Stone with Mary Watson in McLean Community Players’ ‘The Secret Garden’ in July 2007. Photo by Traci J. Brooks.

The joy of celebrating theater is alive and well in our family and we have, of course, found it to be a tie that binds us together. Dating back to when my Mother, Daryl Jervis Stone, was a tapper and business owner teaching dancing, we have seen how the power of theater is both a joy and giver of confidence for those who partake.

As a family, it has not been so much a choice to continue in this vein but, rather, an opportunity to be taken up. We are grateful for the bond it has provided our family while, at the same time, we pursue to passion which we love. When not in productions together, we vicariously enjoy the journey that others are on … sometimes cajoling and always celebrating and supporting. And, as parents, Linda and I are certainly proud of our young men’s accomplishments so far and excited about upcoming opportunities.

Following several years of lead and featured roles at McLean High School, Nick anchored the school theater’s production of Women and Wallace his senior year.  The piece, selected as Virginia’s entry in the International Thespian Conference One Act Showcase, was performed with impressive impact at that conference this summer.

Nick in ‘A View From the Bridge’ in June 2012 at The Cappies. Photo by S. Chaikind.

Nick also played the featured role of Alfieri in McLean’s production of A View from the Bridge that went on to capture The Cappies Best play for the 2011-2012 season. As his last hurrah before his next adventure, Nick performed in McLean Community Player’s rendition of Legally Blonde – the Musical this summer.

After recently playing Fredrik in The Arlington Player’s production of A Little Night Music, performed in the Mead Center for American Theater’s Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, I joined Nick with a cameo or two in Legally Blonde while Mom, Linda, acted as the show’s co-producer. Now 18, Nick enters the Theater Program at Muhlenberg College.

Meanwhile, Alex has been busy himself. Since The Secret Garden he appeared over the summer in two The Theater Lab School of the Dramatic Arts’ productions – as Frankie Epps in Parade and as Michael in Off the Broken Road. As a rising sophomore, we are excited about Alex’s challenges and opportunities beyond.”

Alex Stone (Dickon) and Emma Kelly (Mary Lennox) in St. Mark’s Players’ production of ‘The Secret Garden’ in May 2012. Photo by Chuck Divine.

In my review of St. Mark’s Players’ The Secret Garden on May 15, 2012, I wrote, “And then out of the darkness and into the light strolled Alex Stone! Sporting a wonderful and credible Yorkshire accent (a special nod here to Accent Coach: Clare Palace) – Stone stole the show as the bundle of energy and optimistic Dickon. Like a force of nature – he scooped up the audience into the palms of his hands and never let go. Alex also lifted the spirits of Mary and all those ghosts behind the scrim – during his renditions of “Winter’s on the Wing,” “Show Me the Key” and “Wick” – both sung with Emma Kelly’s Mary – and I smiled watching their faces glowing with joy.” Alex’s performance is one I will never forget.

Alex recalls the experience of playing Dickon:

Alex Stone as Frankie Epps in Theater Lab’s’ Parade’ in July 2012. Photo by Lauren Kirby.

“It all started seeing my brother and my father in the McLean Community Player’s production of The Secret Garden. When I saw the teenager  who played Dickon and the power this character holds, I immediately wanted to play that role someday. I listened to the recording over and over singing along until it became second nature. To a point, Dickon was my dream role as a youngster.

When I learned that Saint Mark’s Players was auditioning for The Secret Garden, I jumped at the opportunity. I came in to the waiting room, anxious but feeling as well prepared as possible. After a couple of minutes, I heard my name called with a few others. We walked into the beautiful sanctuary of St. Mark’s itself. When it was my turn to audition, I stood up, introduced myself and sang “God Save the People” from Godspell. After I had finished, Eddie Schwartz, the director, asked me how old I was. I responded fourteen. I was relieved when he replied “Well, I didn’t think someone of your age would be able to sing that song, until I heard you.” A few days later I received the call back for the role of Dickon.

When I arrived at the church, the choreographer showed us a routine she wanted us to do. While not a trained dancer, I feel comfortable with movement. Once I finished the dance portion of the call back, I returned to St. Mark’s sanctuary. After singing through a part “Wick” and reading selected lines from the show, I returned home anxiously waiting for news. I was, of course, excited when offered the part.

Alex and Nick Stone Backstage at McLean High School. Photo by Brent Stone.

This was the first show I have been in where I didn’t know anyone else in the cast. But after crossing that awkward border after first meeting new people, friendships grew rapidly. Work in the Saint Mark’s space was different compared to my previously experience. Typically, the players face the audience in one general direction  In contrast, Mr. Schwartz placed the audience on three sides of the acting space. This arena-type seating was initially difficult to work with. Eventually, I grew accustomed to the area and embraced the opportunity. From the beginning, the director wanted lots and lots of energy from Dickon. At first, I felt like I was overdoing it. But, as I became more comfortable with Mr. Schwartz’ vision, I fully embraced the direction. As one of the few positive characters in this show, it is important that Dickon’s enthusiasm and optimism carries throughout the character.

All in all, I had an amazing experience work with all gifted cast and crew. I appreciate all the good times I had and I couldn’t have asked for a better group with which to perform.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7_a5nqWC_c

1 COMMENT

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of working with all of the Stones, and one thing they didn’t mention was how everyone pitches in, be it working backstage, striking the set, or just running errands. Their dedication to the art and business of theater makes them all stars in the theater community.

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