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Reviewed: The Secret Garden at The Little Theatre

This Easter, discover The Secret Garden and unlock the magic within at The Little Theatre.

The cast of The Secret Garden: The Musical at The Little Theatre. Photo by Dave Morris.
The cast of The Secret Garden: The Musical at The Little Theatre. Photo by Dave Morris.

In a lonely manor house on the Yorkshire Moors, Archibald Craven (played by director Keiran Whelan-Newby) is stifled by his manipulative brother, Neville (Russell Webster), and yearns for his beautiful, late wife, Lily (Rose Bale).


All the while, he becomes more isolated and remote from his son, Colin (Edward Lander) who is unable to walk. Their quiet routine is turned upside down when young Mary Lennox (Olivia King) is sent from India to live at Misselthwaite Manor after the death of her parents.


Newly orphaned Mary soon discovers a secret walled garden hidden in the grounds, and – with the help of her new friends Martha (Kerry Smith) and Dickon (Simon Butler) – releases the magic and adventure locked inside it, changing all their lives forever.


Based on the 1911 novel of the same name, this stunning Tony award-winning musical holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Directed by Keiran Whelan-Newby with musical direction by Grace Bale, assisted by Paul Timms, The Secret Garden is based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

 

The Secret Garden is a classic, much-loved novel turned classic much-loved film turned classic much-loved musical.

Brothers Archibald and Neville. Photo credit Dave Morris.
Brothers Archibald and Neville. Photo credit Dave Morris.

The Secret Garden: The Musical at The Little Theatre weaves a tale of wonder around Mary Lennox, a young protagonist who discovers a veiled garden nestled within her uncle's domain.


As she breathes life back into the forgotten grounds, Mary not only nurtures the once desolate soil into a tapestry of splendour but also discovers solace and rejuvenation for herself and her uncle's bereaved kin.


This musical beautifully delves into the themes of love, loss, rebirth, and nature's potent ability to herald fresh beginning, as the audience is taken through many heart-breaking and grief-stricken moments. Hauntingly so, with many of the characters playing ghosts of Mary's parents, friends and Archibald's wife Lily.

Mary Lennox played by the excellent Olivia King, with Martha, played by Kerry Smith. Photo by Dave Morris.
Mary Lennox played by the excellent Olivia King, with Martha, played by Kerry Smith. Photo by Dave Morris.

The ghosts worked well to create an other-worldly and spooky aesthetic, but occasionally felt like they were becoming a little overbearing when at full team capacity - the ghost of Lily and also Mary's father, Captain Albert Lennox (Tom Young), might have been enough to add a sense of 'being watched over'. The pair of ghosts (the parental ghost duo, you might say!) added a real sense of tenderness to it all - the young struggling children were never really alone.


The costumes and set design at The Little are always amazing and this production is true to form - the attention to detail is incredible and really brings the story to life. Standouts being the amazing slow-mo segment with full cast post-interval and, of course, the garden itself!


Among the harmonious jewels adorning this musical treasure in Leicester were Archibald's (Whelan-Newby) pitch perfect renditions of "A Bit of Earth" and the duet of "Lily's Eyes" with the smooth vocals of Webster – and every song Mary (King) sang was delightful, in particular, "The Girl I Mean to Be".


Each lyrical masterpiece weaves a thread of emotion and depth, enriching the enchanting narrative and enveloping audiences in a realm of magic and melody. Standout performances also came from Lily (Bale) with her amazing voice in "Come to My Garden", and "Hold On" from Martha (Smith) who was mesmerising to watch, and was a personal highlight.

Dickon (Simon Butler), Martha (Kerry Smith) and Colin (Edward Lander) pictured by Dave Morris.
Dickon (Simon Butler), Martha (Kerry Smith) and Colin (Edward Lander) pictured by Dave Morris.

Through these harmonies, The Secret Garden breathes life into themes of hope, restoration, and the transcendent magic of nature, making it a timeless, classic musical now too.


Show dates throughout Easter for the whole family to enjoy.


Grab your seats now whilst there are a few remaining, unlock the magic within and celebrate all things hopeful and spring-like at The Little Theatre.


March 22-27

April 3-6


★★★★

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