Gaetana Caldwell-Smith

Reviews

The Secret Garden

(L to R) Katie Maupin as Mary Lennox, Sharon Rietkerk as Lily, and Brian Watson as Archibald Craven.

I was highly entranced by the 42nd Street Moon production of The Secret Garden, directed by Dyan McBride.  The theatre company of dancers, singers, musicians, and actors pulled off  this well-known musical fantasy in The Gateway Theatre’s limited stage area by utilizing scrims and video projections.  Originally a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1911, it was adapted as a musical which opened on Broadway in 1991.

The play tripped along smoothly, led by a great cast with extremely talented young star, Katie Maupin as orphaned 12 year old, Mary Lennox.  Mary had been living in the then Bombay, India when her parents died in a cholera epidemic, so she was shipped back to England, to her emotionally distant Uncle Archibald Craven (Brian Watson), as her Guardian to live in his  spacious mansion.   Her age-mate Tyler Grashong, as bed-ridden cousin, Colin Craven, is hidden away in an upstairs room.

Granted, it seemed a might rough in spots the night I saw it in a preview performance, still confident that these minor issues would be ironed out for the remainder of the run.  Marsha Norman (book and lyrics) and Lucy Simon (music) retained the mystery and magic inherent in the Victorian era novel which easily transcended beyond the footlights to the audience.    The era was such that a lot of the mysteries from India had been brought to England due to its being a colony of that country until India won its independence in 1947.  English ambassadors, politicians, and administrators made their homes in the larger cities; families often traveled back and forth, as well as philosophers, scientists, and theosophists.   Norman (and Hodgson before her) effectively incorporated these elements into the story as evidenced in the plight of Colin Craven, the dreamlike appearance of the spirits of the dead, characters in Indian native dress, while Simon did the same in her compositions.

The Secret Garden runs through December 24; go to: info@42ndstmoon.org; 42ndstmoon.org for tickets and information.

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