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The Secret in the Wings

A bunch of kids in a basement playing dress up. The Disney sucked out of the fairy tale. Dozen of worlds and one child’s imagination.

A playful and imaginative celebration of the power of stories. Scenes, songs, striking visuals, and dance collide to tell a series of lesser known fairy tales from a range of countries. All but one of the stories are split in half as the play fans in and then out again in a whirlwind of theatrical creativity. Nine performers, 75 costumes, and over 100 props bring to life the deep darkness and the powerful love that only fairy tales can contain.

Content Notes

Content Notes (sometimes called content warnings) are our opportunity to give you a heads-up about some of the things you will encounter in the production. We recognize that certain content could be triggering and that there are some days you might not want to deal with those things or might want to have a heads-up before you do.

If you prefer to be surprised by the content, feel free to skip this section. Engage with the play in whatever way you wish!

Content Notes
See Secret

A digital version of this production will be available to view from April 28-30, 2021.

Ticket Price: $10.00.

For online viewing options for this production, please contact the U of A Studio Theatre Box Office via email: or via phone: 780-492-2495.

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Share your thoughts on the production and see what other people have to say.

Learn more in our

"Dig Deeper" section!

Click "Learn More" to see an interview with the director and our Fairy Tale Challenge!

What surprised you about the play?

What was a moment in the production that stood out to you, and why?

Do you have a favourite fairy tale? Why does it resonate with you?

Dig Deeper

"A dramaturg is a member of the artistic team of a theatre production who is a specialist in the transformation of a dramatic script into a meaningful living performance."

(5) Michael Mark Chemers, Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy, Southern Illinois University Press, 2010.


Mary Zimmerman:
About the Playwright

Mary Zimmerman is an American playwright/ adapter, theatre and opera director, and professor. She is the Jaharis Family Foundation Chair in Performance Studies at Northwestern University...


Mary Zimmerman:
How She Creates

Mary Zimmerman isn’t your typical playwright. At least not in the sense of a solitary figure, labouring alone at her desk by candlelight in the hopes of producing a masterpiece manuscript...


Fairytale Sources

The Secret in the Wings weaves together a variety of Fairy Tales, some well known and most not. Faithfulness to the original stories is not a priority for Zimmerman, who freely adapts, alters, and blends...


Fairy Tales and (Child?) Psychology

We often think of fairy tales as being for children. The original collection of The Brothers Grimm (from which several tales in The Secret in the Wings are drawn) was, however, not specifically intended for kids...


The Power of Telling Stories

The Secret in the Wings is performed by adults and is not a play intended for young audiences. It therefore invites us to consider what fairy tales might offer us as adults in the audience...


Creating During COVID

Stay 2m apart at all times. No prop can pass directly from one actor to another. Sanitize your hands before and after you’re onstage...


The Secret in the Wings Playlist

Check out this playlist for the show compiled by the cast and crew!

Dig Deeper

Meme Gallery

Dylan Maguire, one of the performers in The Secret in the Wings, has kept the creative team amused by making memes about the show. Like Zimmerman’s adaptation of fairy tales, these memes playfully combine references to create new and fun meanings. Once you’ve seen the show check out this selection to get a good laugh!


Director's Notes

Director's Notes

I first fell in love with this play for its hyper theatricality, imaginative weirdness and delightful playfulness. A deceptively complicated little show, Mary Zimmerman’s The Secret in the Wings weaves together a number of lesser-known fairy tales within the larger frame of a reimagined version of Beauty and the Beast. At its heart, the play reveals that love is kindness, and that compassion and generosity towards the other is what allows us to heal one another and ourselves. In the published version of the script Zimmerman opens with a Rainer Maria Rilke quote that says: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love”.


Much of the play and production centres on transformation: transformation of self, transformation of place, time and objects and transformation of perception and expectations. The play eschews a “Disneyfied” view of fairy tales where romantic love, beauty and wealth are the “happily ever after” and instead focuses on the importance of familial bonds and benevolence towards the other. All of the tragedies in the play are resolved through the simple acts of offering an orange and an embrace of what is frightening. A year into a pandemic that has separated and isolated us from the secure bonds we rely on, the message of empathy towards the other and the necessity of connection with those we love rings even more powerfully true than it did when I first read this play in March 2020.


This show is based entirely in ensemble work and much of what you see on stage was created by the company during rehearsals. We have endeavoured to work in a manner that celebrates the play’s message of respect, kindness and collaboration and we hope you enjoy watching it as much as we have enjoyed creating it. Thank you so much to everyone who has worked so hard to make this magical little production a reality in these times, including you, our audience. We couldn’t do it without you.

--Liz Hobbs



Queen 3, Snake Leaves Princess, Allerleira, Ensemble — Lauren Brady

Queen 2, Princess Who Won't Laugh, Daughter, Elizabeth, Ensemble — Elizabeth Chamberlain

Prince 1, Suitor 1, Snake Leaves Boy, Ensemble — Max Hanic

Prince 2, Suitor 2, Snake Leaves King, Ensemble — Thomas Kassian

Father, Ambassador, Father of Princess Who Won't Laugh, Ensemble — Dylan Maguire

Queen 1, Mother, Companion, Ensemble — Jenny McKillop*

Michelle, Stolen Pennies Child, Nursemaid, Ensemble — Michelle Robb

Mr. Ross, Father of Seven Swans — Garett Ross*

Prince 3, Suitor 3, Father/King in Allerleira, Ensemble — Zachary Strom

Understudies — Ryan Blair, Mackenzie Paterson


Director — Elizabeth Hobbs

Set, Costume, and Lighting Designer — Camille Paris

Composer — Stephanie Urquhart

Sound DesignerAnthony Hunchak

Assistant Costume Designer — Lieke den Bakker

Assistant Lighting Designer — Feng Yi Jiang

Production Dramaturg — Charlie Peters

Voice Coach — Michael Kaplan

Singing Coach — Sherry Steele

Movement Coach — Lin Snelling

Magic Consultant — Jay Chun

Stage Manager — Galen Hite

Assistant Stage Managers — Frances Bundy, Patton Wei


Directing Advisor — Melanie Dreyer-Lude

Design Advisor — Guido Tondino

Dramaturgy Advisor — Jan Selman

Stage Management  —John Raymond

Scenic Art Advisor — Cindi Zuby


Lighting Operator — Shella Novakovic-Apostol

Sound Operator — Kai Yakichuk

Stage Crew — Dylan MacKay


Tim Williamson


Production Manager — Gerry van Hezewyk 

Technical Director — Larry Clark 

Assistant Technical Director — Kenzie Bowes

Wardrobe Manager — Joanna Johnston

Cutter — Julie Davie

Milliner / Stitcher — Karen Kucher


Master Carpenter — Darrell Cooksey

Scenic Carpenter — Barbara Hagensen


Lead Scenic Artist — Rory Turner

Scenic Artists — Julian Anderson, Amy Dass, Curtis Gauthier, Stuart Lindsay, Kade Mazury, Isabelle Martinez, Ian McClellan, Skylar Velthuis, Caleb Willis


Properties Master — Jane Kline

Properties Assistants — Tiffany Martineau

Lighting Supervisors — Jeff Osterlin, Mel Geary

Lighting Technicians — Amy Dass, Curtis Gauthier, Kade Mazury, Ian McClellan, Skylar Veltuis

Sound Supervisor — Matthew Skopyk


Department Chair/Artistic Director — Melanie Dreyer-Lude 

Administrative Chair — Julie Brown 

Theatre Administrator — David Prestley 

Box Office Coordinator — Candice Stollery

Office Coordinator/Admin Assistant — Helen Baggaley

Marketing and Communications — Erik Einsiedel

* The participation of these Artists is arranged by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association under the provisions of the Dance•Opera•Theatre Policy.