Review Roundup: THE SECRET GARDEN at Theatre Under The Stars
THE SECRET GARDEN runs at Theatre Under The Stars in Houston through October 22, and is based on the 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
The story is set in the early years of the 20th century. Mary Lennox, a young English girl born and raised in the British Raj, is orphaned by a cholera outbreak when she is ten years old. She is sent away from India to Yorkshire, England, to live with relatives whom she has never met. 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. It has a book and lyrics by Marsha Norman with music by Lucy Simon.
The show is directed and choreographed by David Armstrong, with set design by Anna Louizos, sound design by Justin Stasiw, lighting design by Mike Baldassari, costume design by Ann Hould-Ward, and musical direction, supervision, and new arrangements by Rick Fox.
The cast stars Bea Corley as Mary Lennox, Jeremy Kushnier as Archibald Craven, Josh Young as Dr Neville Craven, Lizzie Klemperer as Lily, Charlie Franklin as Dickon, Sean G. Griffin as Ben Weatherstaff, Jason Forbach as Captain Albert Lennox, JohAnn George as Fakir, Julian Lammey as Colin, Charlotte Maltby as Martha, and Anisha Nagarajan as Ayah.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Wei Huan-Chen, The Houston Chronicle: Jeremy Kushnier tries his best to make the character, the uncle Archibald, broodingly charismatic, though he does it better with his vocal performance than scene work with Bea Corley, who plays a character as cloying all the others: the orphan girl Mary. Kushnier and Corley sang superbly. So did Julian Lammey, a 10-year-old student at TUTS' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, as the secret son Colin. The vocals were altogether more compelling than the production. The music by Lucy Simon (Carly's sister), though not catchy, made the audience feel something, even if those sentiments were unearned by the story.
D.L. Groover, The Houston Press: Sorry to say the musical never bursts into anything, except when Charlie Franklin, as leprechaun-like Dickon, happens to be onstage. He's a real song-and-dance man, a veteran of this production from Seattle and Washington who knows how to enlarge the stage, even when pitted against a sound design and English accents that become garbled and unfathomable. His twee character doesn't have much to do, but Franklin does it superbly.
Audrey Morabito, BroadwayWorld: Directed by David Armstrong, there were countless moments in THE SECRET GARDEN I wish I could have captured in my mind forever. The opening scene featured a picture-perfect moment of foreshadowing that was brilliantly designed by Anne Louizos, magically lit by Mike Baldassari, and sung with vocal perfection by Lizzie Klemperer as Lily Craven. In addition to stellar performances, THE SECRET GARDEN displayed top-notch scenic, lighting, and costume designs that worked together to create the several contrasting worlds of the story.
Photo: Melissa Taylor