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BWW Reviews: HCTO’s THE SECRET GARDEN Richly Rewarding with Superb Talent

There's nothing quite like anticipating a performance of one of your favorite musicals only to have your expectations overwhelmingly exceeded, right? (I can see each of you nodding your head in agreement.)

The Hale Center Theater Orem staging of "The Secret Garden" is a rewarding experience for theatergoers. All of the magnificence and charm of the 1991 Tony-winning adaptation of the beloved novel is fully displayed. Seated in the intimate, in-the-round theater, the emotional involvement of fellow audience members surrounding you is clearly seen. We are intently engaged in each aspect of the show and wiping away tears at its conclusion.

There's no shortage of singing-acting talent on stage to bring the rich "Secret Garden" characters to life. Many of the performances are impressively top tier.

At the top of the cast list is Maggie Scott, giving a professional-level performance as Mary Lennox. One can imagine a director's trepidation in giving a fifth-grader the crucial lead role, but Scott is wonderful in capturing Mary's growth as she blossoms under the garden's influence. And she sings with a sweet, captivating voice.

Portraying Archibald and Lilly Craven, Dallyn Vail Bayles and Rachel Lynn Woodward bring impassioned acting and superbly strong vocals to the lead roles. Bayles and Woodward are favored actors locally, and it's easy to see why. Bayles has a warm tenor voice that soars heavenward, and Woodward's soprano is strong and pure. Bayles' Archie is a tortured man longing to live in the past, but there's ample tenderness is his scenes with his son, the bedridden Colin (Mark Jeffs). Woodward is beautiful and leaves no question that Archie would be so broken-hearted at the loss of his Lilly.

Keith McKay Evans brings great joy to his role as Dickon, and Dave Burton has powerful vocals in the thankless role of Dr. Neville Craven.

Altering the period from 1906 to 1880 for the convenience of the costumer would be more acceptable if smarter color choices were made. The women's gowns are opulent with stunning details but the selected hues for the supporting dancers are an odd mishmash, from vibrant yellow to olive-ochres.

The spirituality of "The Secret Garden" was emphasized by having the dreamers-ghosts lead Mary through the Craven home and into the garden. Though the Hale Center Theater Orem performance space is small, the long, twisted halls of the gloomy mansion was cleverly approximated by rolling doorways propelled by the spirits. To reveal the reborn garden, paintings in gilded frames, with a full-length portrait of Lilly dominating, on the drawing room wall become windows into a the blossom-filled garden when the painting are removed from their frames.

"The Secret Garden" is a delight-filled musical that testifies of the power of love to transform and renew.

For more information, call 801-226-8600 or visit

CAPTION: Dallyn Vail Bayles as Archibald Craven and Maggie Scott as Mary Lennox in Hale Center Theater Orem's production of  "The Secret Garden." Photography by Pete Widtfeldt

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From This Author Blair Howell