presented by Theatreworks
Last night, Jeannie and I saw a musical version of The Secret Garden at Theatreworks in Mountain View. It's a beloved childrens' classic story, after all, and I thought it'd be fun to see it performed on stage. A little girl named Mary Lennox is orphaned and forced to move from her home in British India to the English countryside, so that she can live with her reclusive, eccentric uncle. The staff are friendly, but the house itself is eerie, as if haunted by ghosts. But Mary's liveliness slowly brings the house to life again as she uncovers the secrets of her uncle's family.
It's been a long, long time since I've read the book; to be honest, I'm not even sure that I've read it all the way through. There were several aspects of the story that I do not remember from my foggy recollections of the plot. For example, the house is very definitely haunted here – ghosts wander in and out of every other scene. I do not remember any ghosts at all; any that were in the story were a product of Mary's imagination, not active spirits. But here Mary's obsessed with the spirit of her aunt – not her mother – while the ghosts of her servants in India follow her around, loyal even after death. It was very strange.
There was also a subplot involving the brother of Mary's uncle, a character I do not remember from the novel. He is a doctor and oversees Colin's treatment. In this version, he was also in love with Colin's mother, and seems to be resentful of the boy and subconsciously preventing him from becoming healthy because he's angry that he was 'robbed' of his chance to be with his true love. I suppose this story could be in the childrens' book, although it's rather dark, don't you think? But I don't remember any hint of it.
The songs were largely forgettable, and some of them did very little to assist the plot, which meandered and wandered all over the place. So definitely not the most compelling musical I've ever seen. But it was fun. The actors were all pretty good, although the kid playing Colin was creepy. He looked like a child version of Cathy Rigby, the blonde gymnast-turned-actress who has played Peter Pan off and on for the past twenty years, but a creepy Children of the Corn sort of person. He was a little freaky to watch, to be honest. But overall, it was an entertaining show. Not great, but fun.
Yeah, so about half of those people in white are ghosts. Weird. Please note the Indian guy in the turban standing toward the back.