Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Secret Garden
Also see Tracy's review of Bat Boy
An orphaned little girl, a boy who can talk to wildlife and a hidden garden are just a few of the many elements that make up Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's novel, The Secret Garden. Published in the early 1900s, the tale of reaffirmation has been presented in a variety of ways. Over the years there have been film and television adaptations, and in 1990 it was brought to the Broadway stage in the form of a musical. Now that musical is being produced by the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts.
The Secret Garden focuses on young Mary Lennox. Mary travels to Yorkshire, England, to live with her uncle following the death of her parents as a result of a cholera epidemic in India. Mary's uncle, Archibald Craven, is a broken man who continues to be grief-stricken over the death of his beloved wife. Even though his wife's death occurred ten years earlier, time has not eased his pain. Uncle Archibald's house is a dreary place for the child until she discovers a mysterious secret garden.
Director John Going has made some good choices in this production and the cast is top-notch. John Scherer, who performed on Broadway in By Jeeves, plays Archibald Craven. Scherer is both vulnerable and tormented in this role and the result is quite stunning. Another Broadway veteran, Rita Glynn (Jane Eyre), delivers an excellent portrayal of Mary. She is very skilled for one so young.
The cast includes some familiar faces from DC theater as well. Local actor Stephen Gregory Smith (Street Scene) is delightful as Dickon, the young man who has a passion for nature. Helen Hayes Award winner Sherri L. Edelen (She Loves Me, Sunday In The Park With George, Side Show) is superb as Martha, his lively sister who works in the Craven household. Ms. Edelen's performance of "Hold On" is truly a showstopper. Her former She Loves Me cast mate, Peggy Yates, sings the role of Lucy beautifully. Another She Loves Me alum, Stephen F. Schmidt, is sadly underused as Mary's father. The talented actor is the Archibald Craven understudy, and it would be interesting to see his interpretation of the role.
The Secret Garden plays well to adults and children alike. However, the show runs over two hours and may be a bit long for younger children. That being said, the OTC's production of The Secret Garden is a heart-warming theatrical experience. The show serves as a fitting conclusion to a strong 2002 season. The Secret Garden runs through December 29th.
Olney Theatre Center
Cast List (in order of appearance)
Lily: Peggy Yates