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The Secret Garden
a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Book and Lyrics - Marsha Norman; Music - Lucy Simon

COMPANY : New London Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : New London Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 3783

SHOWING : July 16, 2010 - August 08, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Frances Hodgson Burnett's enchanting classic of children's literature is reimagined in brilliant musical style by composer Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of "'Night Mother." Orphaned in India, 11 year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with haunting melodies and the "Dreamers," spirits from Mary's past who guide her through her new life, dramatizing The Secret Garden's compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal. Winner of 3 Tony Awards.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Scott F. Rousseau
Costumer Dawn Berlo
Musical Director Henry L Hadden
Mary Lennox Chelsea Belcastro
Dr. Neville Craven John Evans
Archibald Craven Jesse Farmer
Martha Emily Gordon
Ayah Lisa Gordon
Ben Weatherstaff Brian Jones
Dickon Marc Megahee
Colin Peter Nelson
Mrs. Medlock Nancy Powell
Lily Craven Gretchen Swanson
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Lovely
by TheatreJock
Saturday, July 31, 2010
3.5
“Secret Garden” is a favorite childrens story which has been told through numerous book editions, stage, TV productions, films and one Broadway musical production. Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon created a beautiful musical show, and New London Theater gives a good and credible effort in their production. I’ve never seen a New London show, and “Secret Garden” was a good introduction to their company. It was well worth the drive into Gwinnett to see and enjoy their efforts.

The show is almost a choral production with the ensemble providing important musical support and plot development throughout and New London’s singers perform admirably. An interesting two-level set and solid lighting weave together to create an appropriate and evocative atmosphere of an English estate on the sometimes gloomy, often stormy Yorkshire moors. The only visual disappointment comes, unfortunately, at the end of the show, when the audience gets a glimpse of the reborn garden. It could, and should, have had a much greater visual impact. It’s a shame, coming at the end of a show where so many things have been done right.

The show has a nice pace to it, and director Scott Rousseau uses his actors and singers efficiently as they move through the tale of a young girl transforming a tragic and unhappy family, guided by the ghost of the young girl’s aunt—and her determination to be happy in spite of her own life’s tragedies, which have brought her to this estate to live.

Also contributing to the pace and general musical excellence of the show is accompanist Henry Haddon. His accompaniment adds a wonderful flow, grace, and perfect support to what the actors are doing onstage. His work is a major asset to this production.

The show’s score contains some beautiful numbers, “How Could I Ever Know,” “Top of the Morning,” “Lily’s Eyes” and a beautiful duet between Colin and her mother’s spirit—all well done by a talented cast. It didn’t quite work for me to see young Mary and Colin played by older actors. Nothing wrong with their performances. They were obviously talented and gave a great effort, but I would have preferred to see age-appropriate performers in those two roles.

However, there is much to admire in New London’s production of “Secret Garden”. Congratulations to Mr. Rousseau and company.
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Musically Magical
by playgoer
Saturday, July 31, 2010
4.5
"The Secret Garden" at New London Theatre in Snellville can boast one of the best collections of community theatre voices I've ever heard. When it's accompanied by the musically magical keyboard work of musical director Henry Hadden, the aural delights never cease. "The Secret Garden" has more musical underscoring than most Broadway shows, and it provides a backdrop for the action in a way that heightens the mood of the piece. The show flows beautifully and sounds great.

The stage at New London Theatre is wide and tall. For "The Secret Garden," a two-story set is used that contains a servants' gallery at the top and a staircase at audience right. Faux stone painting covers all the walls. It's well executed, providing a monochromatic background for the action that takes place on the bleak, wuthering moors of Yorkshire. A lighted doorway at audience left leads into the secret garden, which we see only in the final scene. Unfortunately, a couple of flower-filled urns and a few trellises don't have quite the visual impact the final scene calls for.

Costumes are above par for community theatre, and staging keeps the action moving along. The space is well used, with scenes alternating nicely between the two sides of the stage. There are a lot of people flowing onstage and off as the deceased "dreamers" move through the piece, and there is a minimum of delay as scenes change.

All performances are good. Some particular standouts are Emily Gordon and Marcus Megahee as servant Martha and her brother Dickon. Both have great voices and marvelous Yorkshire accents. Nancy Powell, as the stern Mrs. Medlock, has great projection, which helps in the somewhat cavernous performance space. The vocal highlight for me, though, was the duet on "Lily's Eyes" by Jesse Farmer and John Evans. It's a stirring, melodic song, and both men do full justice to it.

"The Secret Garden" is a strong show, and New London Theatre's production of it emphasizes those strengths. It doesn't hurt particularly that the roles of Mary and Colin are played by actors beyond the age of children. There would be more of a "wow" factor, of course, if kids took on these pivotal roles and did them justice, but the vocal assurance of Chelsea Belcastro is a pleasure in its own right. This is a show to be seen! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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