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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 28, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 17
The Secret Garden blooms brilliantly
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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The Secret Garden blooms brilliantly

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

THE SECRET GARDEN,
THE MUSICAL
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through May 6


The Secret Garden is one of the most beloved children's stories ever written. Based on the book by the same name, the musical takes over the stage at the 5th Avenue Theatre. Included in this lush tale are beautiful score (written by Pulitzer Prize winning Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon), and a wonderful story for the entire family.

The story tells of 10-year-old Mary Lennox, a precocious girl raised by servants in English dominated India, at the turn of the 20th century. After disease kills her entire family, she is reluctantly sent to her only living relative, an Uncle in England she has never met named Archibald Craven. Mary's instructions are very strict until she meets Martha, a kindly housekeeper that informs Mary of the late Mrs. Craven's secret walled-up garden. She meets Dickon, a boy that works with the groundkeeper, and Dickon teaches Mary how to properly care for a garden. But those in the house are not happy about the secret garden being disturbed, and Mary soon hears haunting crying from somewhere in the house, and the whispers of ghosts all about her. When Mary eventually finds her way into the garden, the hidden secrets of the household are revealed, and Mary faces her greatest challenges.

The entire cast of the show are all absolutely fantastic, and with the new sound system at the 5th Avenue, it is truly a pleasure to hear and understand them. While half of the cast are ghosts, they still have strong stage presence. Lizzie Klemperer plays 'Lily,' the former wife of Archibald, who guides and leads the living characters to find one another and the secret garden. Her voice is a pure one, and she sings with utter clarity. The two Craven brothers are played by Tam Mutu (Archibald) and Josh Young (Dr. Neville). It is not often a (contemporary) musical showcases the male voice, but here the actors both do excellent jobs. The duet 'Lily's Eyes' is pure magic as the two men are joined by the lamentation of the women they both loved. The emotion and empathy felt is easily conveyed by the voices of these two men.

Tony Award winner Daisy Eagen plays the maid 'Martha.' Quite familiar with the show, Ms. Eagen originated the role of 'Mary Lennox,' returning to the show and playing a role equally as strong. 'Martha' is the first friend Mary makes in her new home and the maid guides her with two important songs: 'A Brand New Coat' (revised for this version of the musical) and the empowering 'Hold On,' what could easily be called the 'eleven o'clock number' of the musical. Her voice is strong, clear and she commands full attention during the two delightful solos.

The real star of this musical is Bea Corley who plays Mary Lennox. For a young lady, she plays the role with an adult's precision and experience. The girl's character is pompous and entitled, and Ms. Corley conveys it to the audience without allowing it to become cliché. The young lady here is someone to be watched; not only did she handle herself as an adult on the stage, but her vocal talents definitely imply she has a career in front of her.

The staging and set designs of the musical are definitely things that need to be pointed out. The set is beautiful and designed to be an overgrown garden. The trellises are covered in vines, and are positioned on wheels to make them easily movable, implying the maze path through the gardens. The design is by Anna Louizos and the Associate Choreographer, Trina Mills, and they both should definitely be given their due as they both went above and beyond with their work in this production.

The Secret Garden is a true musical delight. Safe for the family, it will delight the younger generation of audience goers as much as it pleases the theatre veterans. The music is as lush as the garden itself, with a few songs that will pleasantly stay in your head.



The Secret Garden is based on the 1911 children's book by the same name, written by Frances Hodgson Burnett (author of Little Lord Fauntleroy). After several adaptations for the screen, it was adapted for the stage by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman (book and lyrics), and Lucy Simon (music) - the sister of Carly Simon. The musical opened in April 1991 and ran for over 700 performances. It was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning three, including a win for Daisy Eagan (Mary Lennox). Ms. Eagan became the record holder for the Youngest Tony Award winner, replacing her predecessor (the then 17-year-old) Liza Minnelli.

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