Secret Garden

Norfolk Youth Music Theatre has a history of successful Fringe productions, including The Enchanted Lovers – A New Dido, based on Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas and Little Shop Of Horrors. This year they’ve brought the musical version of the classic children’s story, The Secret Garden.The story is set at the beginning of the 20th century. Mary Lennox, an eleven year old British girl living in India, is suddenly orphaned by a cholera outbreak. She is sent to England, to live with her brooding uncle Archibald in Yorkshire. Mary is an unpleasant child, used to having servants and initially annoying all her uncle’s staff. She is befriended by Martha, one of the maids, and then Martha’s brother Dickon, who knows everything about gardens and animals. Mary gradually learns about plants from Dickon and, thanks to a helpful Robin, finds her way into a secret garden, which has been locked up since the death of Archibald’s wife, whose garden it was. The garden appears to be completely dead but, with Dickon’s help, Mary is determined to bring it back to life. Mary has been told that there are no other children living in the house, but hears crying at night. Eventually, she discovers that Archibald has a son, Colin, who has been bedridden since birth. She encourages him to go outside into the secret garden, where his health recovers as the garden is brought back to life.The story in the musical is slightly altered, mainly to give more emphasis to the adult characters. The book is mainly concerned with the relationship between Mary and Colin and, to a much lesser extent, Martha and Dickon. In this production, Colin’s doctor, who seems to be largely responsible for keeping him bedridden, is Archibald’s younger brother Neville, who stands to inherit the estate if Colin dies. This enables additional scenes to be created between Neville and Archibald and between Neville and Mary.The performances in this production, both acting and singing, are uniformly good, particularly given the age of the performers. Callum Bicknell, as Archibald Craven, and Emily Stanghan as his wife, Lily, are excellent, and they are both only sixteen years old. The orchestra is also extremely good. Yet another success for Norfolk Youth Music Theatre.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

History Boys

★★★★

Dracula

★★

Cherry Orchard

★★★★

Azincourt

★★★★

Secret Garden

★★★★

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The Blurb

Popular story of a young girl who discovers an overgrown secret garden at her uncle's house. With her new-found friends she brings the garden back to life and changes their lives forever. Noda 'best production' award 2009.

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