2nd Star Productions The Secret GardenBy Jennifer Gusso • Jun 12th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
2nd Star Productions
Bowie Playhouse, Bowie, MD
Through June 27th
2:20 with one intermission
$20/$17 Seniors and Students
Reviewed June 4, 2010
It is always nice to find theatres that are producing family-friendly productions. The Secret Garden is a good production to appeal to both children and adults, especially if a theatre company has the talent and resources to pull off a difficult score, set, and period costumes. In 2nd Star Productions’ The Secret Garden, they are able to adequately meet all of the technical demands and pull off a decent overall performance.
The set, designed by director Jane B. Wingard, is very lovely and does an excellent job of transforming into the various locations demanded by the script without any disruptive or lengthy scene changes. The costumes, designed by Linda Swann, are excellent representations of the appropriate period. The overall visual effect of the entire production, further enhanced by the Lighting Design of Garrett R. Hyde, is truly pleasing. In addition, Wingard stages the entire piece with an obviously artistic eye and creates beautiful pictures to look at throughout.
The extremely difficult score, filled with intricate harmonies, was obviously well-placed in the hands of Musical Director Joe Biddle. There was barely a sour note in the entire piece, and the harmonies were haunting and beautiful as written. A few of the voices were occasionally swallowed by the loud orchestra, but this was rare. Overall, the cast was obviously filled with very well-trained vocalists who demonstrated incredible technique and ranges across the board.
Unfortunately, for the most part, the heavy emphasis on vocals, either in casting or direction, left the acting performances on the weaker side. Most of the cast failed to transcend into a place where they seemed to really be living as their characters or to achieve that extra “WOW” factor. This made it a little difficult to connect with what should have been the emotional core of the show. The dialogue scenes, although few in this script, were especially weak and seemed very artificial.
The strongest performance came from Zachary Fadler as Dickon. He did the best job of adding performance polish to his numbers and connecting with the audience. He also had the most beautiful tone quality and strongest voice in the cast. Another performance worth mentioning was Malarie Novotny as Rose. Although it was a smaller supporting role, she creates one of the more believable characters and has a strong and pleasant voice that draws attention. Her onstage husband, portrayed by Kevin Cleaver, also does a decent job of bringing some believability to a small role. Vivian Wingard (Mary), Eddie Chell (Archibald), and Mary S. Dickson (Martha) all have moments that verge on greatness in their pivotal roles, but they never quite make it to that next level of believability.
All in all, this was a decent production. The vocals, orchestra, and overall musical direction make it extremely pleasant to listen to, and the designers make it wonderful to look at. While it would have been nice to see an extra connection with the audience to actually bring about the promised tears, it would be remiss to say that the production is anything less than solid.
I have been in love with The Secret Garden for years. The music is overwhelmingly beautiful, the message inspiring as the story deals with the renewal of life after crushing tragedy. Although the book is a children’s story, the adult characters’ struggle with loss is central to the musical. Mary, a soiled, yet neglected orphan is sent half way around the world to live with her reclusive , widowed uncle. She is pulled from her shell by her housemaid, Martha, and her brother, Dickon. She, in turn, encourages her ill and equally bratty cousin, Colin, to embrace life. In the end, Uncle Archie hears voices of the children as well as the song of the spirit of Lily , his departed wife and finds joy in the life he has. “Lily’s Eyes” sung by Archie and his brother Neville is one of the most beautiful tenor duets in musical theatre. The Secret Garden embraces all of the life affirming, family friendly qualities 2nd Star loves producing. We hope you enjoy the show – tears and all! – Jane Wingard
- Lily: Samantha Feikema
- Archibald Craven: Eddie Chell
- Dr. Neville Craven: John Dickson
- Mary Lennox: Vivian Wingard
- Colin Craven: Austin McKinnis
- Colin Craven: Gabe Needle
- Martha: Mary S. Dickson
- Dickon: Zachary Fadler
- Mrs. Medlock: Cheramie Jackson
- Ben Weatherstaff: Al Zarate
- Mrs. Winthrop: Nora Biddle
- Rose Lennox: Malarie Novotny
- Capt. Albert Lennox: Kevin Cleaver
- Alice: Victoria Brown
- Lt. Wright: Vincent Musgrave
- Lt. Shaw: Kevin Cleaver
- Major Shelly: AL Zarate
- Mrs. Shelly: Nora Biddle
- Nurse: Sue Centurelli
- Major Holmes: Wendell Holland
- Claire Holmes: Briana Gresko
- Fakir: Michael Mathes
- Ayah: Ruta Kidolis
- Director/Producer: Jane B. Wingard
- Co-Director: Brian Douglas
- Music Director: Joe Biddle
- Choreographer: Ruta Kidolis, Vivian Wingard
- Rehearsal Pianist: Jonathan Glickman
- Stage Manager/Properties: Joanne D. Wilson
- Stage Crew: John McKinnis, Deb Needle
- Set Designer/Scenic Artist: Jane B. Wingard
- Scenic Assistants: Bill Bagaria, Gail Bagaria
- Set Construction: Steve Andrews, Joanne Wilson
- Lighting/Sound Design: Garrett R. Hyde
- Lighting/Sound Technician: Pete Dursin, Al Chopey
- Costumes: Linda Swann
- Load In Crew: Al Chopey, Duane Rouch, Jane Wingard, Joanne Wilson, Steve Andrews, Matt Andrews, Bill Davis, Stevie Mangum, Dick Russell, Marty Hayes, Gail Bagaria, Bill Bagaria, Lynne Wilson, Beth Schultz
- publicity: Jane B. Wingard, Lynne Wilson
- Webmaster: Gail Bagaria
- House Manager: Gail Bagaria
- Usher Coordinator: Jane B. Wingard
- Reservations: Jane B. Wingard
- Box Office: patty Mangum, Jane Wingard, Adele Degnan, Geri Verrier, Kathy McBee
- Photography: Debe Tighe
- Program: Lynne Wilson
Disclaimer: 2nd Star Productions provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5078.
Jennifer Gusso has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musical for use in church.