REVIEW:  ‘The Secret Garden’ blossoms at the Company Theatre

In the midst of darkness, hope may be as tucked away as a garden.

Packed with secrets that reach far beyond the hallowed walls of the Misselthwaite Manor, The Company Theatre scheduled the perfect time of year to deliver a musical about finding light in loss, growth in darkness, and the best way to plant roots in Marsha Norman’s family-friendly The Secret Garden which continues live and in person at the Company Theatre in Norwell, Massachusetts through Sunday, April 2.  The show is two hours and 20 minutes including one intermission.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

Logo courtesy of Zoe Bradford/Company Theatre

Set in Colonial India and then North Yorkshire, England in 1906 based on the 1911 Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel of the same name, The Secret Garden focuses on Mary Lennox, portrayed with wise beyond her years fortitude and a mischievous streak by Diana Lee, an orphan girl who arrives at mysterious Misselthwaite Manor after tragedy strikes to live with her widowed Uncle Archibald, depicted with melancholy and seeming detachment by Peter S. Adams.  On Mary’s first night at the manor, Mary starts to hear strange noises and the only thing left to do is investigate. 

Dru Daniels as Lily in ‘The Secret Garden’ Photo courtesy of Zoe Bradford/Company Theatre

Fueled by gorgeous harmony, what stood out the most in this multilayered production was its enchanting score.  Though the musical delves into grief, it also has its share of comical and heartwarming moments.  With music by Lucy Simon, musically directed mellifluously by conductor Robert McDonough and with illustrative choreography and staging by Sally Ashton Forrest, The Secret Garden is well cast with divine and powerful voices, especially from Dru Daniels as discerning and strong willed Lily and Peter S. Adams as Archibald.  Adams has a deeply emotive quality to his vocals and blended with Daniels’s beautiful and operatic tones, songs such as How Could I Ever Know are simply stunning.  Adams movingly delivers both a tender and soaring A Bit of Earth and bittersweet Race You to the Top of the MorningJames Fernandes carries his own as practical and scrupulous Dr. Neville Craven in a powerful rendition of Disappear and with Adams in an awe-inspiring version of Lily’s Eyes.

James Fernandes as Dr. Neville Craven and Peter S. Adams as Archibald Craven Photo courtesy of Zoe Bradford/Company Theatre

Diana Lee shares the role of Mary Lennox with Francesca Miele on alternating performances.  Lee’s angelic soprano vocals shine for A Girl I Mean to Be and she shares some fiery and amusing scenes with Lilly George as domineering and sheltered Colin who shares the role with Jackson Lynch.

Jennifer Beth Glick, delightful in Company Theatre’s previous family musical, Matilda, brings her bright smile and sweet demeanor to the role of Martha.  Playful and nurturing, Glick delivers an exuberant rendition of the imaginative A Fine White Horse and charming chemistry with serious Lee.  Glick also demonstrates Martha’s profound side with a soaring and memorable Hold On.  Glick also shares her role with Emily Lambert on alternating performances.   Another breath of fresh air is Tim Bevens as Martha’s brother Dickon who coaxes Mary to observe the world around her accompanied by a few well behaved, but also with a bit of hankering for mischief live animals that will have to be seen to be believed.  Dickon’s adventurous and breezy demeanor makes him a treat among the musical’s heavier content in his wondrous rendition of Winters on the Wing and with Lee for Wick.

Tim Bevens as Dickon Photo courtesy of Zoe Bradford/Company Theatre

Managing a wild thunderous storm, a blanket of stars, and deep shadows on the manor walls is lighting designer Dean Palmer Jr. with Ryan Barrow’s dynamic and moving set design from the lofty bookcases of a vintage Victorian mansion to the stone walled, vine covered vitality of the outdoors inspired by the Victorian Era.  Costume designer Cathy Torrey completes the look with frock coats, lorgnettes, cravats, and flowing frocks in muted colors faithful to the era.

The Secret Garden has plenty of discoveries in store continuing live and in person at the Company Theatre in Norwell, Massachusetts through Sunday, April 2.  Click here for more information, tickets, and for Company Theatre’s upcoming events.

Leave a Reply