If you are looking for a magical journey that will leave you feeling reborn, then I have the play for you! THE SECRET GARDEN, playing at the UC Davis Health Pavilion, gives an enchanting spin on the literary classic that will make you believe in second chances.
THE SECRET GARDEN, based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, tells the story of Mary Lennox who lives in India and at 10 years old is orphaned when her parents and caretakers die from cholera. With no other relatives, she is sent to live with her Uncle Archibald and his hypochondriac son Colin in their big empty mansion in Yorkshire, England. Her uncle is often reclusive as he is dealing with his own grief of losing his wife who loved to garden. As Mary begins to explore the grounds and mansion, what sort of secrets will she uncover?
The play has some artistic differences from the book, one being the use of ghosts throughout the show. Throughout the story, the spirit of Mary’s parents Rose and Albert, her various Indian caretakers, and her Aunt Lily help to move the story along and give context to events that happened in the past. I felt that they were a great storytelling tool to the musical. There are many memorable moments like “The House Upon the Hill” and “Final Storm” numbers which heavily feature the singing talents of those spirits. Each song they performed as a group was hauntingly beautiful and gave me goosebumps.
“Lily’s Eyes” was one of my personal favorite songs performed. Max Von Essen (Archibald Craven) and Ben Roseberry (Dr. Neville Craven) both sang with a gentle tone that built up over the course of the song, harmonizing wonderfully. I also must mention Kanisha Marie Feliciano (Lily) and her gorgeous singing as each song she performed was a stand-out. Her performance in “How Could I Ever Know” was stunning and had me feeling hopeful in the idea of love after death.
By the end of THE SECRET GARDEN I had a huge smile on my face and my heart felt so warm. The play does a wonderful job of making you feel enchanted. So, find the key, get a bit of earth, follow the robin’s call to THE SECRET GARDEN playing through August 14. Click here to learn more.