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The Secret Garden- NODA Report

The Secret Garden- is a musical based on the 1911 Victorian classic of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The musical’s script and lyrics are by Marsha Norman, with enchanting music by Lucy Simon. It premiered on Broadway in 1991 and ran for 709 performances. When young English girl, Mary Lennox loses her parents to a cholera outbreak in India, she is sent to live with her uncle, hermit Archibald Craven, who lives in an imposing, secluded manor in North Yorkshire. Inside the haunting house upon the hill, Mary finds an odd collection of souls. Since her aunt Lily’s death, Mary’s uncle has pushed away his surviving loved ones, leaving his bedridden son, Colin, alone. Sickly Colin, hidden away in the depths of the manor, bears the guilt of his mother’s death on his crippled shoulders. When Mary discovers her Aunt Lily’s hidden garden, locked shut and overgrown with vines, stubborn Mary is determined to revive the beauty that once was. With the help of loyal servants and surrounded by spirits from the past, who both warn and welcome her, determined Mary begins to reduce the air of sadness that covers the house and garden. Her own personality blossoms as she and a young gardener bring new life to a neglected garden, as well as to her sickly cousin and uncle.


Front of House: The very well organized front of house area was all a buzz with anticipation. There were plenty of staff to assist patrons and deliver a warm welcome.


Theatre Ambience: This theatre has tiered seating and every seat has a good view of the stage.


The Programme: The programme is well designed and contains all the information needed with interesting penpictures but no photographs. The NODA crest appears on the cover. Advertising for future shows is detailed and new members are encouraged.


Scenery/Set/Properties: The 3-dimensional structure placed in the centre of the stage was used imaginatively in a variety of ways throughout the production. Good use was made of projection, lighting and smoke effects. The minimalist props were perfectly adequate to convey the necessary scenes. A real case of “less is more”.


Lighting &Sound: Overall the sound was well managed although the balance between the orchestra and some of the principals could have been improved. Excellent use of lighting in all the various scenes creating a wide range of atmospheres.


Make Up/Hair/Costume: Great care had been taken with the wardrobe and to great effect. The contrast between the living and the dead was easily interpreted by the audience. Every item of clothing, hair and makeup reflected the period and location.


Music/Orchestra:The musicians produced a well-balanced sound behind the gauze. The very complex arrangements of the songs were extremely well delivered by a very talented cast.


The Production: It was very easy to get lost in the plot of this show however the principals drew the audience in to the drama very carefully and the director’s inspirational use of the 3-d stage transformed what would otherwise have been a pedestrian production with multiple scene changes to something resembling a first class film..This show moved at a great pace, as the story unfolded, not flagging at any stage – the audience focus was kept up throughout. The cast appeared to be totally engrossed in the action and at the end of the show the buzz of enjoyment from the audience was palpable throughout the theatre. This was a well-crafted show and the cast achieved singing of great clarity and the acting was exemplary – the end result was high quality entertainment. Hatton should be truly proud of this production.


Kay Rowan NODA South-East Councillor