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Musical adaptation of The Secret Garden coming to The Little Theatre this Easter

The classic is the centrepiece of a stellar season at Leicester’s home of amateur dramatics.

The cast of The Little Theatre's production of The Secret Garden: The Musical.
The cast of The Little Theatre's production of The Secret Garden: The Musical.

The Little Theatre on Dover Street has announced its spring/summer season for 2024, and at its heart is a musical adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s much-loved novel, The Secret Garden.


The production continues the theatre’s tradition of staging a family-friendly musical around the spring holidays. It follows the success of last year’s adaptation of The Railway Children, which saw more than 2,400 people attend the theatre, many for the first time.


Colin Craven is played two boys; Edward & Harry. Olivia King plays Mary Lennox.
The child stars of the show

The Secret Garden follows Mary Lennox, a recently orphaned young girl, who moves from India to live at Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire Moors. There she meets her reclusive uncle Archibald Craven (still yearning for his late wife, Lily), his manipulative brother Neville and her bed-ridden cousin Colin. Along with new friends, Martha and Dickon, Mary’s discovery of the estate’s secret walled garden changes all their lives forever.


Published in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel is regarded as a classic of English children’s literature and has been repeatedly adapted into films and TV shows, most recently in 2020. The musical was adapted for Broadway by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon and ran for 709 performances in 1991-93. It also won three Tony awards from seven nominations. It came to the UK in 2001, with a revival in 2016.

The cast of The Secret Garden in their matching hoodies.
The cast of The Secret Garden

The Little Theatre’s production will be directed by Keiran Whelan-Newby. While this is Keiran’s first time directing for Leicester Drama Society, his previous productions have included the award-winning shows, Calendar Girls (2022) and Gypsy (2023).


Director of The Secret Garden, Keiran Whelan-Newby said: "I can’t wait to bring this underrated musical to the stage. It’s a show I have adored for years. The Secret Garden has everything for the whole family – comedy, romance, hope, grief, sadness, mystery, joy, magic, and a whole catalogue of showstopping numbers.


"I am thrilled to have assembled a wonderful cast and we cannot wait to start ‘unlocking the magic’ of this classic and wonderfully moving story. I defy you not to cry!"

The poster for The Secret Garden: The Musical.

On-stage March 22-27 and April 3-6 for an extended run of 13 performances, The Little’s version of The Secret Garden will be the centrepiece of a season that includes:


The poster for The Good Life

Based on the TV Series by John Esmonde & Bob Larbey. Adapted by Jeremy Sams

February 5-10

Dir. Ruth Cheetham


The sitcom classic brings self-sufficiency to Surbiton, with Tom, Barbara, Margo and Jerry.






The poster for Dial 'M' For Murder.

by Frederick Knott

March 4-9

Dir. Mary Jones


Murder, suspense, deception and intrigue in this enduring thriller.








The poster for Legally Blonde: The Musical.

Based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the MGM motion picture. Adapted by Heather Hach, Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin

April 16-20

Dir. Jeremy Holt (Produced by LOPs)


Leicester Operatic Players stage Elle Woods journey from sorority girl to Harvard Law student.




The poster for Dangerous Corner.

by J B Priestley

April 29 - May 4

Dir. John Ghent


A gripping play from the author of An Inspector Calls.








The poster for Alice in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass.

by Lewis Carroll. Adapted by Adrian Mitchell

May 17-18

Dir. Andy Longley-Brown & Kate MacIntyre


The Leicester Drama Society Youth Theatre take a trip to Wonderland.







The poster for Grease: The Musical.

by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

May 21-25

Dir. Sarah Varnam (Produced by WAOS)


Wigston Amateur Operatic Society bring the T-Birds and Pink Ladies to Leicester.








The poster for Table Manners.

by Alan Ayckbourn

June 10-15

Dir. Russell Hughes


Ayckbourn’s celebrated comedy presents the events of one weekend, as seen from the dining room.







The poster for The Darling Buds of May.

by H.E. Bates

July 1-6

Dir. Mary Jones


A warm-hearted adaptation of the novel that led to the 1991 television series.








The poster for Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

by Linda Woolverton, Alan Menken, Howard Ashman & Tim Rice

September 17-21

Dir. Keiran Whelan-Newby


KW Productions tells the iconic ‘tale as old as time’. Be our guest for this Disney classic.






The poster for The Little's 2024 pantomime, Sleeping Beauty.

December 13, 2024 – January 5, 2025

Devised & directed by John Bale


The theatre’s annual, traditional family pantomime.








About The Little Theatre

Located on Dover Street in the city centre, The Little Theatre is home to Leicester Drama Society. Founded in 1922, the society has been producing amateur dramatics to professional standard for over a century and has seen the likes of Richard Attenborough and Joe Orton tread the boards.


With only a handful of paid staff, the venue is predominantly run by volunteers, with all actors, creative and technical crew, front of house, and bar staff involved because of their love of theatre.


The theatre’s patrons include Sooty and Richard Cadell (his right-hand man), Sir Anthony Hopkins, Gervase Phinn, and Lord Richard Attenborough.


Book your trip to The Little Theatre at thelittletheatre.co.uk.

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