Gainesville Theatre Alliance presents first musical on Brenau campus since 2020

For the first time in two years, the Gainesville Theatre Alliance is returning to the stage on Brenau University’s historic Gainesville campus for performances of The Secret Garden. The show will take place April 8-16 in the Hosch Theatre and is GTA’s first at Brenau since Pippin in February 2020.

Tracey Brent-Chessum, GTA associate artistic director and Brenau theater department chair, is excited to bring performances back to a Brenau stage.

“After two years of navigating COVID-19 and safety protocols, our theater experience is starting to feel a bit more ‘normal,’” Brent-Chessum said. “I am thankful that our faculty and student designers and technicians have pulled out all the stops to ensure that The Secret Garden will pick back up where Pippin left off. Already, we know that The Secret Garden will mark a grand return to what GTA does best: providing quality educational experiences to our students and quality theatre to our community.”

Allie Hill portraying Martha in The Secret Garden during rehearsals.
Allie Hill, who portrays Martha in The Secret Garden, participates in rehearsal. (Gainesville Theatre Alliance)

GTA is a nationally recognized collaboration between Brenau and the University of North Georgia.

Allie Hill, who plays the role of Martha, transferred to Brenau and is now in her senior year as a musical theatre major. She said performing on her home campus after spending so much time learning online creates a memorable experience.

“The feeling of getting to step into a space like the Hosch Theatre and put on a show with a message as powerful as The Secret Garden’s, surrounded by colleagues and professors who I admire so deeply, is one I certainly do not take for granted,” she said. “The swell I can feel in my bones as we sing this undeniably beautiful score is unmatched, and to be able to do it in a facility like this one is simply the best. I am very lucky and absolutely elated to open my final show at GTA here!”

Maddie Compton (playing Mary Lennox) on the left, and Katelyn Zeller (playing Colin Craven) on the right
Maddie Compton, playing Mary Lennox (left) rehearses with Katelyn Zeller, playing Colin Craven. (Gainesville Theatre Alliance)

The Secret Garden is a musical based on the 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, with music and lyrics by Marsha Norman and music by Lucy Simon. Set in the early 20th century, the musical tells the story of a young English girl who is orphaned and discovers a long-neglected garden while living with her uncle, which brings a turn of renewal.

Tickets can be purchased at the GTA box office, by calling 678-717-3624, or online at