Little Theatre of Alexandria The Secret GardenBy Laura & Mike Clark • Mar 7th, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of the Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of The Secret Garden [MP3 6:56 3.2MB].
Little Theatre of Alexandria
Little Theatre of Alexandria, Alexandria, VA
$17 – $20
Through March 15th
Mike: I can really see why performers love to be in this show, it is such a challenging piece. However, the show itself has never done a lot for me. I think the LTA performance of it was pretty good.
Laura: I liked it. I do think the obsession over the dead people got a little old, but I do see where this is a complicated piece. I liked the dance numbers and the set a lot. I enjoyed this performance.
Mike: The Secret Garden is a musical based on the novel by Francis Hodgson Burnett. Book and Lyrics by Marsh Norman and music by Lucy Simon. Mary Lennox, a young British girl born and raised in India, has lost her parents in a cholera epidemic. She is sent to England to live with her uncle who suffers from a loss of his own – his wife Lily – leaving him detached and distant. Feeling neglected once again, the young girl begins exploring the estate and stumbles upon a garden that has been locked and deserted. Aided by a Yorkshire lad with an unique relationship with the land, Mary begins restoring the garden, and eventually discovers some other secrets of the manor.
Laura: The role of Mary, the young girl who was sent to live with her Uncle Archibald Craven in England, was played by Brittany O’Grady. She had a powerful voice for one so young. She could really belt it out. I liked her portrayal of this role very much. When she was in India and realized her parents were dead and then got picked up and whisked off to England, there was a lot of emotion and tension. She had a lot of emotions, such as when she was dealing with the governess that brought her to England.
Mike: I think she did a great job in this role. She had a nice voice.—–Her Uncle, Archibald Craven was played by Brian Bender. He was kind of confusing. He was sending mixed messages of yes she can stay here, but I don’t want to talk to her or see her. He was just off in his own little world. That was kind of a downer in the show of the depression that seemed to hover over the household. Bender really personified that. He was maybe even the cause of it. I think he did a good job. Especially the songs he had in the second act. The scene with him in Paris receiving the letter from Mary was very nicely done. His voice sounded really good. For example, when he was singing with his late wife Lily played by Laura Wehrmeyer. She also had a great voice and did a good job with it.
Laura: Archibald Craven’s brother, Dr. Neville Craven, was played Michael J. Baker, Jr. I liked his performance. I thought he was funny. He had some of the best reactions to the action going on on stage. Especially at the end of the show (I don’t want to give it away.) But his reaction to being told by Archie where he should go was so funny. He had a good voice. I liked the duet that he and his brother had in the second act when they were singing together and Archibald was holding on to Lily and singing about his love for her. I thought that was a very touching scene.
Mike: Another performance that really stood out to me was Dickon played by James Finley. He was such a spritely little gardner. He really lit up the scenes he was in. He did remind me of Wesley from The Princess Bride. I kind of got the giggles at first when that sprung into my mind during the first act. He did a great job and captured the fun of being a gardener and the advice he gave Mary worked really well.
Laura: Overall I thought all of the performers did a good job. There was some pretty tricky choreography. I felt a little bit almost like the stage was too small when the Dreamers would come on and were dancing together. We were sitting kind of close to the front and sometime it looked like they were kind of on the edge of the stage which was a little bit scary. But they did a good job.
Mike: The set was interesting. There were a lot of different scenes played out on stage. What they did was have a series of sliding panels that came from the left and right and on each set of panels, the backdrop was several sets of doors. That gave a lot of flexibility to the performers. When the panels would slide on stage they would have furniture on them which would help with the scene. The central section of the set was able to be rotated so you could easily have the outside of the garden and the inside of the garden, or Colin’s bedroom, for example. It all worked very well, although it was a little distracting sometimes. I also think the colors on the different painted surfaces of the doorway panels changed in the lighting. I think it was different colors or the light was hitting it differently from where I was sitting. It looked like it was either brown or purple at different spots. That was a touch distracting.
Laura: Why is The Secret Garden not one of your favorite shows?
Mike: It’s been a long time since I’ve read the story. It just doesn’t seem to quite catch the magic. I think the ghosts or the spirits distract and it gets really crowded and distracting from the people in the story. I’m just not really happy with that. Maybe I like more of Mary getting her strength from her friendships. I don’t quite get the relying on people who have died months ago. The obsession that Archibald had felt over his wife, I didn’t get that either. I don’t feel like that’s explained well in this story. That’s not anything against LTA or their interpretation. It’s part of the original writing. Those things just irk me and makes for a really tedious show. The dancing was incredible even if it was a little crowded. The singing was incredible. A very complex show. After the show, we spoke briefly with the music director, Cynthia Beck, and she agreed that it is a tough show musically. I totally understand why people would want to be involved with it.
Laura: The Secret Garden was approximately two and a half hours with one intermission. It is playing through Saturday March 15th. Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM. A Sunday matinee on the 9th at 3 PM and a Saturday matinee on the 15th at 2 PM at the Little Theatre of Alexandria in Alexandria, Virginia.
Mike: I’d like to hear your thoughts and comments on The Secret Garden. Both specifics about the Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production and other comments about The Secret Garden in general. You can do that here at ShowBizRadio.net.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
- Mr. Neville Craven: Michael J. Baker, Jr.
- Archibald Craven: Bryan Bender
- Colin Craven: Sofia Campoamor
- Maj. Shelley: Matt de Nesnera
- Dickon: James Finley
- Alice: Erin Gallalee
- Mrs. Medlock: Vicki Hill
- Rose: Sarah Hirschman
- Ben: Jerry Kamens
- Lt. Shaw: Ken Kemp
- Capt. Albert Lenox: Keith J. Miller
- Mary: Brittany O’Grady
- Mrs. Winthrop, Cloe: Renee Rabben
- Mrs. Shelley: Margie Remmers
- Maj. Holmes: John Shakckelford
- Lt. Peter Wright: Jay R. Sigler
- Mary: Whitney Turner
- Martha: Adrienne Turner
- Ayah: Jessica Vega
- Lily: Laura Wehrmeyer
- Claire: Linda Wells
- Colin: James Woods
- Producers: Rachel Alberts, Bobbie Herbst, Robert Kraus
- Assistant to the Producers: Jamie Blake
- Director: Donna Ferragut
- Musical Director: Cynthia Beck
- Choreographer: Amanda M. Cane
- Dance Captain: Keith J. Miller
- Stage Managers: Leighann Behrens, Margaret Evans-Joyce
- Assistant Stage managers: Starr Bowie, Allan Heyrana, James Hutzler
- Properties: Judy Kee, Art Snow
- Assisted by: Betty Dolan, Brigitte Guttstadt, Carol Hutchinson, Orron Kee, Emilie Pade, Jayn Rife, Margaret Snow, Bob Van Eimeren, Janice Yeadon
- Set Decoration: Nancyanne Burton, Jean and Allen Stuhl
- Set Design: Ken Crowley
- Set Construction: Chris Feldman
- Assisted by: George Alberts, Raj Buck, Gail Cafardi, Chris Caputo, Christine Chen, Ginger Clifton, Wendy Dick, Ed DiMondo, Margaret Kehl, Mark Kehl, lee Kerns, Bob King, Jen Koch, Robert Kraus, Nick Lamb, Diana Massey, Dan Remmers, Kat Rodenhizer, Jack ßchaffer, Jim Woods
- Set Painting: Mary Hutzler, Diedre Nicholson Lamb, Joe Schubert
- Lighting Design: Ken and Patti Crowley
- Master Electrician: Joanne Tompkins
- Assisted by: Eileen Dohert, Heather Franklin, Elizabeth Herbst, Justin Lang, Pam Leonwich, Stephanie Mertz, Doug Olmsted, Ryan Pollock, Dick Schwab, Kevin Weckman
- Sound Design: David Correia
- Assisted by: Eleni Aldridge, Keith Bell, David Hale, Bill Rinehauls, Janice Rivera, Alan Wray
- Costume Design: Beverley Nicholson Benda
- Assisted by: Pat Bradford, Heather Franklin, Joanna Henry, Bobbie Herbst, Diedre Nicholson Lamb, Susan Turner
- Wardrobe: Mary Beth Smith-Toomey, Annie Vroom
- Assisted by: Michele Campoamar, Michelle McCarthy, Wanda Perkins, Margaret Snow, Susan Turner, Ellen Woods
- Makeup and Hair: Paul Morton
- English Accent Coach: Carol A. Strachen
- Assisted by: Danny Brogan (Yorkshire Accent) and Paul Singh (Indian Accent)
- Rigging: Russ Wyland
- Photographer: Shane Canfield
- Auditions: Tina Anderson, Margaret Snow, Annie Vroom
- Double-Tech Dinner: Ronnie Hardcastle, and Benny Robles
- Assisted by: George Alberts, Sharon and Lenard Dove, Elizabeth Herbst, Russ Wyland
- Opening Night Party: Michael Toomey and Mary Beth Smith-Toomey
- Conductor: Cynthia Beck
- Flute: Gwyn Jones, Mel Lauf
- Clarinet: Dana Gardner, Katrina Ambrose, Alisha Coleman
- Violin 1: Marcia McIntyre
- Violin II: Michele Jacobs
- Viola: Caroline Brethauer
- Cello: Virginia Gardner, Kevin Uleck
- Bass: David Burrelli
- French Horn: Deborah Kline, Damon Nelson
- Trumpet: Terry Bradley, Paul Weiss
- Trombone: Chris Bradley, Rick Schutz, Peter McVety
- Percussion: Jim Hofmann, Kevin Uleck
- Keyboard: John-Michael d’Haviland, Alan Margolis
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2200.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.