It all starts with what seems like a dream: a young girl sleeps as her parents depart for a social event that quickly takes a turn for the worst. The nightmare continues as the girl is whisked off to live with her uncle, one of the few living souls left in a house full of spirits and secrets. One secret is kept buried beneath the earth, for that is where a new beginning must be planted for it to grow into a plentiful and curative SECRET GARDEN.
This young girl is Mary Lennox (Emily Gallagher), a willful child that doesn’t even flinch when given upsetting news. Instead, she perseveres and only shows her vulnerability when exploring her new, unfamiliar home. Gallagher does an excellent job at showing the many sides of Mary, from the spoiled expectations that come from a privileged background to the sweet, sensitive, and inquisitive nature of a child. In addition to her wide acting range, Gallagher treats the audience to a remarkable vocal range that complements every scene partner.
Archibald Craven (Keith Kirkner) is Mary’s grieving guardian. As her uncle, he wants to give her everything, but his struggle with loss is too great and won’t let him feel anything but pain. This struggle is clearly evident in Kirkner’s performance, and his rich vocal tone is pleasing to the ear while it stirs the emotions. When we see the interactions Archibald has with his beloved Lily (Kelly Slota), we can feel the love in the room and understand the anguish they both express throughout the play. Their story culminates with a rendition of “How Could I Ever Know” which is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Slota’s strong soprano is matched well with Kirkner, and the result is musical magic.
The product of Archibald and Lily’s love is Colin (Ben Dreyer), and the scenes where these three connect are certainly moving. Like Mary, Colin also has a dramatic side and the two often battle each other for the title of most spoiled kid on stage. Dickon (Trevor Frantz) takes the title of Zen Master of the garden with his laid-back and organic approach to life. Frantz exhibits a folk style to his performance in both tone and unpretentious attitude. This down-to-earth manner fits, both literally and figuratively. Martha (Roseann Enwright) is the housemaid and Dickon’s sister, and she adds a bit of sass to the show. Enwright’s witty character and strong performance acts as a bridge between the youthful playfulness and solemn side of adulthood seen in the play.
The “Dreamers” of the show include Mary’s parents, Rose (Carly Price) and Albert Lennox (Michael Gearty), Mary’s Indian spiritual guides, Fakir (John Wishnie) and Ayah (Colby Langweiler), as well as Major Holmes (Stuart Wyss-LeClair), Claire Holmes (Amelia Arrigo), Alice (Alicia Landis), Lt. Ian Shaw (David Martin), and Lt. Wright (Paul Waldowski). These dreamers appear in flashback scenes and act as chorus members throughout the show, strengthening the story and musical numbers.
The rest of the cast includes Archibald’s brother Dr. Neville Craven (Jim Banar), head gardener Ben (Bill Hoblin), the Craven’s housekeeper Mrs. Medlock (Reva Kazman), Jane/Nurse (Melanie Eyth), and Mrs. Winthrop (Amy Fiscus), the headmistress for the girl’s school where Mary is supposed to attend until her wild outburst determines otherwise.
The SECRET GARDEN proves to be full of life, spirit, and charm, where emotion and talent grows abundantly.
based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Book and lyrics by Marsha Norman
Music by Lucy Simon
Directed by Keith Soester
August 23 – September 7, 2013
Town and Country Players
4158 York Rd.
Buckingham, PA 18912