With spring in the air, MUSKET’s upcoming production of “The Secret Garden” is poetically apropos. The timeless story of a girl who finds a garden and loves it back to life is both touching and pleasing during the current warmth that has been weaving its spell on campus. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, on the Power Center stage, the reviving properties of a warm spring day are captured in this beautiful play.
“The Secret Garden” begins in India where we meet Mary Lennox and her parents. Unfortunately, Mary’s parents both catch and die from Cholera, forcing Mary to go live with her uncle. Mary’s uncle, Archibald, is also suffering from the sorrow of loss. His wife Lilly died in childbirth, and Archibald copes by secluding himself from society. This sets up the basis of the story, which includes Mary trying to find a home and Archibald trying to reconcile the death of his wife.
During her wanderings around her uncle’s mansion, Mary finds a key to a garden. Once stepping foot into and falling in love with the secret, walled garden, Mary resolves to bring the garden back to life. With the help of her two, newfound friends, she sets about accomplishing this task.
Adding to the play’s plot line is the interplay between both living and deceased characters. Several ghosts haunt the Craven mansion. In order to keep the living and the dead straight, the ghosts live behind a scrim that serves as the veil between worlds. Throughout the play, the question of, what is living, interweaves itself amidst the action, as the ghosts seem to be more alive than the characters who are still breathing.
Director Meghan Randolph comments, “I don’t think you can ask for better symbolism than a garden,” and in the way that this play has come together, nothing could be more true. Like the tangled mesh of weeds that Mary saw potential in, Randolph saw the buds of a great production in the cast and crew, and in her own words, “I got really lucky. I think we have a really strong show.”
Now, as the fruits of Randolph’s and the entire companies efforts are finally paying off, the excitement for opening night is in full bloom. According to Randolph, the music is gorgeous, and the amount of touching, emotional scenes are innumerable. She confided in her belief that the audience “won’t be able to help themselves from enjoying the joy that the actors have.”
Speaking from the “on stage” perspective, actor Mark VanKempen offered his views on the show as well. He echoed Randolph’s sentiments in saying, “I think the audience will be moved by a lot of the songs.” He specifically mentioned the song “Winter’s on the Wing” as one of his favorites because it is “appropriate for this season.” It talks of “winter being banished by the sun.”