IF YOU GOBLOOMFIELD — A week before his death, Daniel Gosar walked into the bedroom of his younger sister, ShaLeesa Gosar, and burst into song.
What: "The Secret Garden
When: 7 p.m. today and Saturday
Where: Bloomfield High School Auditorium, 520 N. 1st St.
Tickets: $8 for adults, $6 children under 12. Call 505-634-3415 or visit www.BHStheatre.org
To the tune of “Maria” from the musical “West Side Story,” he crooned, “ShaLeesa! I just met a girl named ShaLeesa.”
“Almost everything he did with me was musical,” explained his sister.
About one year ago, Daniel Gosar hanged himself in hills behind Bloomfield. He was 16.
The teenager's suicide is part of what motivated Bloomfield High School's drama instructor, Shawn Kidd, to choose “The Secret Garden” musical as the drama club's spring production this year. The show opened Thursday and runs through Saturday.
“It's a show about people who have to deal with unexpected death,” Kidd said.
ShaLeesa Gosar is playing one of the female leads, Mary Lennox, a young girl who is sent to live with her uncle in Yorkshire, England, after her parents die of cholera. The girl's uncle, Archibald Craven, struggles to come to terms with the death of his wife, Lily. He is frightened that his son, Colin, will die, so he keeps the boy locked up.
In the play, characters from the past appear on stage as part of a “ghost chorus,” Kidd said. In one of the first songs, the characters sing, “Spirits haunt the halls and make no effort now to hide it.” These spirits help move the plot along in ways the other characters cannot, Kidd said.
Aidan Jacobs, a senior at Bloomfield High School, plays Archibald Craven. Sophomore Cheyenne Bilbrey portrays Lily Craven, one of the ghosts who haunts the halls. The youngest cast member is sixth-grader Cole Taylor, who will play the role of Colin.
ShaLeesa Gosar, 13, said that acting on the same stage as her late brother — and literally following in his footsteps — makes her feel special. She has moments of sadness but said that she knows her brother would be proud of her. He had lots of natural acting talent, added the Mesa Alta Middle School eighth-grader. When he would sing, “it was like ‘oh man ... you should be on Broadway right now,” she said.
ShaLeesa and Daniel's mother, AnnaLee Gosar, agreed. She said her son loved singing and dancing, and, as a child, he would often put on shows for his younger sister.
Before his death, Daniel Gosar was scheduled to play Horton in the school's production of “Seussical.” His mother helped with the musical's scenery and costumes. Even after her son died, she continued working on the play.
“I felt like I had to do it to show that I still care about the things he cared about,” she said.
Last summer, after Daniel Gosar's death, AnnaLee Gosar listened to the soundtrack from “The Secret Garden.” One song — “How Could I Ever Know” — stood out to her. The song addresses how suddenly death comes and the grief felt by those left behind.
ShaLeesa Gosar said that her brother's death left her feeling numb. In some ways, that has helped her tap into the role of Mary Lennox, who feels similarly at the beginning of the play.
“I remember what it's like when people are like, ‘Oh, I'm so sorry,'” ShaLeesa Gosar said. “It doesn't help, but what else are they going to do?”
Before she auditioned for “The Secret Garden,” ShaLeesa Gosar listened to the musical's soundtrack in Wyoming, during a trip to visit her late brother's grave. The song“Come to My Garden” hit a chord. The lyrics state, “Come to my garden, nestled in the hills. There I'll keep you safe beside me.”
Daniel Gosar is buried on a hill with green grass.
“It's like a secret garden,” ShaLeesa Gosar said.