West Fargo High School theatre director Bryce Henrickson wanted to offer students a chance to acquire dexterity through something chilling for this year's musical.
"I wanted it to have a different feel, some earthiness to it, grit and some real depth," he said.
To stray from their usual goofy comedy, Henrickson chose the Secret Garden, a children's novel and Victorian classic with several film and theatre adaptations, for their November production.
He said the musical offers an important message: don't let regret and sorrow take over your life, allow yourself to live, to forgive and move on.
The story begins with Mary Lennox, a young, unloved girl that loses her parents to a cholera outbreak in India and is forced to live with her only living relative in a secluded English manor.
"I think if you know the classic tale, this will not disappoint. There are multiple moments in this show that will chill you to the core," Henrickson said.
West Fargo senior Ryan Schlepp is playing the role of Mary's uncle, Archibald Craven, a wealthy widowed man.
"It's really different from anything that we've done in the past here at West Fargo," Schlepp said.
Schlepp thought that, while it is G-rated, it might not appeal to children quite as much as adults who know the tale.
Still, the set's design and costumes should not fail to impress a younger audience, with props to depict a spooky mansion, a magical garden and a slew of friendly ghosts.
There will be a full orchestral pit performing songs from the original score, including, "I Heard Someone Crying."
Roughly 70 people are involved in the musical, with 20 students playing live instruments, 31 student actors and 15 students working tech.
"The people who are dead are actually happy, they're in a better place and they're just wanting you to move on," Henrickson said, while describing the scene. "Although they are sorrow, they project bright colors."
Another senior, Eric Tyulyandin, will play the head gardener for a meaningful send off from his long high school theatre career.
"Everyone starts to come at peace with what's happened to them and their loved ones," Tyulyandin said. "I would highly recommend it. It's just really awesome and the music's beautiful."
The show will have several dates with evening and matinee options including on Nov. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Nov. 4 and 11.
Tickets can be purchased ahead of time at the West Fargo High School website in the drama section under the Box Office tab. The cost is $8 for adults and $5 for students.