Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Secret Garden"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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"The Secret Garden"

Reviewed by ""

A new to the scene critic, I plan to ghost write theatre reviews for local performances. Unobtrusively without the pretense normally laid out when a "critic" is in the house, I plan to give you the real deal for the average theatre patron.

Secret Garden
performed by another newbie, a group called Bay Colony Productions. (Keep your eyes out folks, this new group is jammed packed with talent.)
I'd like to to give you a quickie review on this show.

Visually it is a spooky delight, a story not easily told drifting between reality and the spirit world, the directors vision is captured enticingly pulling you deeper into this haunting tale of loss and healing.

An ensemble piece which moves beautifully through well executed choreography and talented musicians. The ghosts, waltzers and dreamers create an eerie collective of soulful voices that move the piece along flawlessly.

Worth mentioning:
Mary Lennox played by a delightful young girl, perfectly casted with soulful eyes and proper dialect. She can capture your heart through her lonely moody facial expressions or make your heart skip a beat as she skips cheerfully acrossed the stage. She is simply a delight!
Watch for her, this little one may be gracing a stage near you.

Lily, a beauty to the eyes and ears, her skilled soprano voice beckons from beyond. From her quality performance, it is no wonder why her loss is pined for by the Craven's.

Archie and Neville Craven have the most powerful duet "Lily's eyes" which Neville steals the scene expressing his bitterness over an unrequited love. Neville, a man bound by duty and loss is a character you love to hate, his soulful baritone draws you close to hear his tale of woe.

Later they are rounded out beautifully with Rose (Lily's vain sister) in a quartet (Neville, Archie, Lily and Rose)which is masterfully executed and expresses the frustrations and objection of the characters in relation to the obligations and expectations placed on them by others.

Dickon, a crowd pleaser, his song "Winter's on a Wing" will get your feet a tapping and bring joy and appreciation for the "wild things" that are about. Appropriately casted in his look and dialect, the audience rejoices him befriending young Mary.

Martha, a chambermaid, undaunted by the obstinate behavior of new arrival Mary, she warms up to the girl and try to make mary and the audience feel right at home. Her performance was comforting and warm-hearted much like the feel of a tasty bowl of porridge on a cold wintery morn.

Medlock, the housekeeper, cold and as uptight as they come, she makes me glad I am not shipped off to a spooky old house. Her facial expressions made me dig my fingernails into my seat with fear.

"It's a Maze", a confusing display of choreography that seemed to fit just right among the weeds and neglect of a garden left untended. "Come Spirit Come Charm" is a rousing spiritual number that makes you believe in mircles. Kudos to the dancers and ensemble involved in these numbers.

Special effects use blend the realms between the here and now and dearly departed very nicely.

Worth tolerating:
I have told you the good, now this is the part where I tell you the bad and or ugly points, if any, worth fixing, spotted in just about any/every production out there. This show has the talent but could use improvements in tech to make this show near perfection. Broadway-like talent that is poorly lit, leaves the talented cast of singers in the dark. I am referring to the shadows and missed light ques that occured on the night I witnessed their performance. Unless it was the directors vision to have the cast singing in the dark, actors missing their mark or a mishap such as a blown bulb occurred-- there were a few points where attention to this detail would have been appreciated and this problem easily fixed. Another note: certain scene changes involving the garden door appeared clumsy. Either using a more easily moveable set piece or more practice with this prop would have quicken up the pace of the change. On a final note, the sound mix seemed off. Some body microphones had their volumes too high while others seemed not high enough. Colin Craven's microphone seemd to fall in this category that often we couldnt hear his soft dulcet voice. Adjusting the mix, will have the cast sounding even better in their remaining performance.

Final thought:
A beautiful story artisticly portrayed by a talented cast which has no weak spots, bring the family to this touching tale.

I would love to know what's next for this group? where did they come from? What are they all about? I have to admit I am shocked and surprised that the maiden voyage of Bay Colony productions is such an overwhelming success, I hope this is not the last we see of them. A difficult show to do by a novice group, I take my hat off to your achievement.I look forward to the next production of this talented group and pardon the pun, I hope they don't keep it a "secret".

"The Secret Garden" (till 5 August)
Stoughton Cinema, STOUGHTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide