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BWW REVIEW: COME TO HER GARDEN - CENTERPOINT LEGACY'S THE SECRET GARDEN

Live theater returns to CenterPoint Legacy Theater

BWW REVIEW: COME TO HER GARDEN - CENTERPOINT LEGACY'S THE SECRET GARDEN

After nearly a year without a full production due to COVID-19, CenterPoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville welcomes back theater goers for a beautiful rendition of THE SECRET GARDEN, spring version, by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon, directed by Jansen Davis.

CenterPoint has done an excellent job taking COVID-19 precautions, with seats only available for purchase in every other row and with two seats between every pair or group of tickets. They've also eliminated concessions to prevent lines and lingering in the lobby. This particular show has no intermission, which limits unnecessary gathering, and a text option to access the show program.

Once you've settled into the "new theater normal," you'll discover that the magic of theater is still alive and well, even when the actors are wearing plastic face shields to protect the audience. Fortunately with this show, by the end of the first number, you'll be so captivated by their hauntingly beautiful vocals that you'll forget all the surreal protocols.

This cast is small, but mighty. All twelve cast members deliver absolutely stellar vocal performances, and the ensemble numbers are chilling in the best possible way.

In the lead role of Mary Lennox, a young orphaned girl who is sent from India to live with her less than enthused Uncle Archibald at his grand estate, is Caroline Drake. Drake is a CenterPoint Legacy stage vet, and it shows. She's an absolute pro, from her highly believable British accent to her acting tantrums and especially her singing. A perfect portrayal of a young girl who is lost and looking for belonging.

Playing Mary's Uncle Archie, a broken man longing for his late wife Lily, is Zach Watts, whose songs were both captivating and heartbreaking. Whether singing solo or in one of many duets with Laura Strong, playing the ghost of his wife, or Russell Maxfield, playing his conniving brother, Watts delivered a smooth vibrato that soared to the back of the theater and blended beautifully with all his duet partners.

Other standouts included the acting chops of Jessica Wadley as Martha, a house maid at the manor who befriends Mary. Her Yorkshire accent was flawless and her vocals on "Hold On" were an absolute delight.

Martha's brother Dickon, played by Alex Young, brings a lighthearted and fun element to the show, as he bridges the gap between the sadness inside the walls of the manor and the hope awaiting in the gardens. Young delivered gorgeous vocal performances, including a lovely duet with Drake.

Playing the manor's long-time and seemingly cold-hearted gardener, Ben, was Brent Sloan, whose solo numbers were brilliantly executed with both snark and sincerity.

In The Secret Garden, Lennox discovers she has a cousin who has been kept hidden away due to his illness that turns out isn't exactly real. Colin, played by Colin Burke, is a feisty young boy who joins Mary on an enlightening journey of hope, and a future of which neither of them could previously have dreamt. Drake and Burke have a funny and lovable dynamic, a most impressive performance as the two youngest stars of the show.

I'd be remiss not to applaud Laura Strong, who plays the ghost of Lily, Archibald's wife and Colin's mother, who died in a tragic accident shortly after giving birth to Colin. Strong's voice is an angelic soprano, with smooth vibrato and even more impressive range. Lily ties the entire show together, having touched the lives of each cast member somehow whether they knew it or not. And Strong's delivery was subtle, yet convincing.

The entire hour and a half is music to the ears - an impeccable rendition of a beautiful story of redemption, love and most of all, hope. All the things we so desperately need right now, you'll find in THE SECRET GARDEN at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, running now through January 30 on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available on the CenterPoint Legacy Theatre website.


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