Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

1991 Tony® Winner The Secret Garden Brings Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 Novel to Life

The penultimate production of Theatre Raleigh’s critically acclaimed 2017 Hot Summer Nights season is the Tony Award®-winning 1991 Broadway musical The Secret Garden, which will run Aug. 15-20 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, NC. It is based on the beloved 1911 children’s novel by British-American novelist and playwright Frances Hodgson Burnett, and features music by Lucy Simon — an older sister of legendary folk, pop, and soft rock singer-songwriter Cary Simon, who performed with Carly in the folk-music and children’s-music duo The Simon Sisters — and a book and lyrics by Marsha Norman (‘night, Mother and The Color Purple).

The original Broadway production of The Secret Garden, directed by Susan H. Schulman and choreographed by Michael Lichtefeld, debuted on April 25, 1991 at the St. James Theatre, and racked up 709 performances before closing on Jan. 3, 1993. The show garnered seven 1991 Tony nominations, including nominations for Best Musical and Best Original Score; and won the Tonys for Best Book of a Musical (Marsha Norman), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Daisy Eagan as 10-year-old Mary Lennox), and Best Scenic Design (Heidi Landesman), plus three 1991 Drama Desk Awards.

Theatre Raleigh invites Triangle theatergoers to “Come enter The Secret Garden when the enchanting classic children’s tale gets reimagined at the Fletcher Opera Theater”; and Theatre Raleigh’s artistic director, Lauren Kennedy Brady adds, “We are honored to introduce Skyla Woodard and Keegan Story to our Theatre Raleigh audience. We are lucky to have a very rich talent pool in this area — and especially fortunate to have these incredibly talented kids in the show! Skyla and Keegan knocked our socks off and left us with a very easy casting choice. It excites me that our shows represent the world we live in and the diverse audiences we serve….”

Also according to Theatre Raleigh:

“When young Mary Lennox (Skyla Woodard) loses her parents to a cholera outbreak in India, she is sent to live with her uncle, hermit Archibald Craven (Michael Halling), who lives in an imposing, secluded manor on the British heath. Inside the haunting house upon the hill, Mary finds a reclusive, long-suffering collection of souls. Since her aunt Lily’s (Jenny Latimer) death, Mary’s uncle has pushed away his surviving loved ones, leaving his bedridden son, Colin (Keegan Story), alone. Sickly Colin, hidden away in the depths of the manor, bears the guilt of his mother’s death on his crippled shoulders.

“When Mary discovers her Aunt Lily’s hidden garden, locked … and overgrown with vines, stubborn Mary is determined to revive the beauty that once was. Surrounded by spirits from the past, who both warn and welcome her, determined Mary begins to peel away the layers of sadness that cover the house and the garden, showing us the power that ‘one small girl’ can have when she ‘wants things to grow.'”

The cast for Theatre Raleigh‘s gala presentation of The Secret Garden also includes DJ Canady as Archibald Craven’s brother Dr. Neville Craven, Mallory Hawks as the chambermaid Martha, Nick Petrelli as Martha’s brother Dickon, David Bartlett as the gardener Ben Weatherstaff, Bonnie Webster as the housekeeper Mrs. Medlock, Derek Robinson as Mary’s father Captain Albert Lennox, Sean McCracken as Lieutenant Peter Wright, Tristan Parks as Major Holmes, Jacob Barton as Fakir, Lisette Glodowski as Ayah, Austenne Grey as Mary’s mother Rose Lennox, Carly Jones as Major Holmes’ wife Claire, and Taylor Kraft as the headmistress Mrs. Winthrop and Rose’s friend Alice.

The show’s creative team includes New York City guest director Tim Seib; choreographer and Barton College of Wilson, NC Artist-in-Residence for Musical Theatre Sherry Lee Allen, music director and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Cary, NC organist Joanna Li; scenic designer Michael McClain; lighting designer Christina Munich; costume designer LeGrande Smith; wig designer Lisa Acevado; wig supervisor Tiffany Bolick; sound designer Eric Collins; and stage manager Mette Schladweiler.

SECOND OPINION: Aug. 9th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods:

Theatre Raleigh presents THE SECRET GARDEN at 7 p.m. Aug. 15-17, 8 p.m. Aug. 18, and 2 and 8 p.m. Aug. 19 and 20 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $30.50 and up.

BOX OFFICE: 919-832-9997,, or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-832-9997 or

SHOW: and







NOTE: For details on a special Dinner in The Secret Garden, please click here (top of page).


The Secret Garden (1911 children’s novel): (Encyclopædia Britannica) and (Wikipedia).

The Novel: (Library of Congress).

Frances Hodgson Burnett (British-American novelist and playwright, 1849-1924): (Encyclopædia Britannica), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

The Secret Garden (1991 Broadway musical): (Samuel French, Inc.), Norman’s website), (The Guide to Musical Theatre), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

The Script: (Google Books).

Study Guide: (Utah Shakespearean Festival).

Lucy Simon (music): (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Marsha Norman (book and lyrics): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Tim Seib (Theatre Raleigh guest director): (official website) and (Facebook page).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Features, Lead Story, Theatre Feature