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The Secret Garden

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A Musical in 2 Acts, a Prologue and 18 Scenes. Music by Lucy Simon; Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman; Based on the novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

St James Theatre, Broadway - April 25, 1991 (706 perfs)
Aldwych Theatre, London - 27 February, 2001 - 2 June, 2001


The year is 1911. Young Mary Lennox awakes one morning in India, to discover that her parents, and in fact, everyone she knows in the English compound in Bombay, have died of cholera. Having nowhere else to go, she is sent to live with her brooding Uncle Archibald, in his 100-room mansion in Yorkshire.

Accompanying the girl from the train station, Mrs. Medlock, her uncle's housekeeper, tells Mary she shouldn't expect ever to see her uncle, that he is still mourning the death of his beautiful wife, Lily, the sister of Mary's mother. Further, she tells Mary she will have no one to play with, and she will not be allowed to wander the halls. In short, Mary will find her life here to be as gloomy and miserable as the house itself.

Mary receives this news with stony silence. But she is wilful and determined, qualities which will change not only her life, but that of everyone in the house before she is finished. With the help of the spirits who are watching over her, Mary will upset every one of Mrs. Medlock's expectations.

On her first evening at Misselthwaite, Mary hears an eerie wailing but sees only the shadows cast by her uncle as he wanders the halls hearing what he thinks is the ghost of his dead wife.

The next morning Mary meets the irrepressible maid, Martha, who hints there might be something interesting to do outside. Mary is not convinced, but anything seems better than staying in. Proving this point, on her way out she encounters her Uncle Archibald, who seems completely lost, singing and dancing with Lily's ghost, in an empty ballroom.

Once she begins to spend her days outside, however, Mary's sourness gradually diminishes. She learns from the cantankerous head gardener, Ben Weatherstaff of a mysterious walled garden which has been kept locked since Lily's death. And she meets Martha's brother Dickon, a young forest wizard who calls forth the spring in a rock anthem. Then, accompanied by the pan pipe and dulcimer, Dickon teaches Mary to speak to the ever chirping Robin in Yorkshire, and the bird, in turn, shows Mary where to find the key to the garden.

But unable to find the door to Lily's garden, Mary decides she will plant the seeds Dickon gave her, and goes to her uncle to ask if she might have "a bit of earth". That simple request triggers powerful memories for Archibald, and as a storm rages outside, Archibald sinks further into the past. Archibald and his brother, Dr. Neville Craven, sing of how Mary reminds them of Lily, and Neville reveals that he was also in love with his brother's beautiful wife.

Later, still disturbed by the persistent wailing at night, Mary enters the forbidden west wing, where she discovers her cousin Colin, a sickly but imperious boy who is confined to his bed and only visited by his father when he is asleep. Their budding friendship is interrupted by Dr. Craven and Mrs. Medlock, and Mary is banished from Colin's room. At the height of the storm, Mary rushes out of the house, suddenly reliving the cholera epidemic, and feeling more lost than ever. But as Act I ends, the watchful spirits lead her through this nightmare, bringing her finally to the ivy-cloaked door of The Secret Garden.

ACT II begins as Mary dreams of the perfection the garden promises. Everyone she has known and loved is alive and well, and all are gathered in the garden to celebrate her birthday. But the perfection is not to be. Inside the house, Dr. Craven discovers Archibald packing to leave for Paris, and accuses him of shirking his responsibilities. He insists that Mary is disturbing Colin, and must be sent away to school. The brothers quarrel, triggering the appearance of Lily and Mary's mother, Rose. But Archibald will not be deterred. He says goodbye to the sleeping Colin and leaves.

On the next clear morning, Mary tells Dickon that she has found the garden, but it is dead. It is the most "forgotten place" she has ever seen. Dickon sings the melodic "Wick", the Yorkshire word for "alive" and encourages her to take a closer look. Together, they resolve, they will bring the garden back to life.

And not long after that, Mary tells Colin she has found his mother's garden, and wants him to see it. When he confesses he is afraid to go outside, Lily's spirit comes to help him. Colin and Mary visit the garden together for the first time at night, and through its magical power, her faith in him, and a Hindu chant she learned from her Fakir and her Ayah in India, Colin overcomes his fear and stands.

Then, passionately needing to remain at Misselthwaite to see the garden bloom and Colin regain his strength, Mary refuses to go to the boarding school Dr. Craven has found for her. Martha encourages her to hold on and helps Mary write a letter to her uncle in Paris, asking him to come home.

Mary's letter finds Archibald in a very dark moment but the ghost of Lily appears to comfort him, to ask his forgiveness and lead him back home. There, amid the startling blooms and splendid fragrances of the no longer secret garden, Colin walks into his father's arms and proclaims that he is well.

In the final scene, Uncle Archibald welcomes Mary as his own child, and assures her that Misselthwaite Manor is her home now. And then, to thank her for restoring their health and happiness, he gives her the beautiful garden for her own. Then, as the living family comes together, the ghosts, no longer needed, depart one by one.
(Marsha Norman)

Musical Numbers:

  1. Opening - Opening Dream - Lily, Fakir, Mary Lennox, Company
  2. There's a Girl - Company
  3. House Upon the Hill - Company
  4. I Heard Someone Crying - Mary Lennox, Archibald Craven, Lily, Company
  5. A Fine White Horse - Martha
  6. A Girl in the Valley - Lily, Archibald Craven, Dancers
  7. It's a Maze - Ben, Mary Lennox, Dickon
  8. Winter's on the Wing - Dickon
  9. Show Me the Key - Mary Lennox, Dickon
  10. A Bit of Earth - Archibald Craven
  11. Storm I - Company
  12. Lily's Eyes - Archibald Craven, Dr. Neville Craven
  13. I Heard Someone Crying (reprise) - Mary Lennox, Company
  14. Storm II - Mary Lennox, Company
  15. Round-Shouldered Man - Colin
  16. Final Storm - Company
  17. The Girl I Meant to Be - Mary Lennox, Company
  18. Quartet - Archibald Craven, Dr. Neville Craven, Rose, Lily
  19. Race You to the Top of the Morning - Archibald Craven
  20. Wick - Dickon, Mary Lennox
  21. Come to My Garden - Lily, Colin
  22. Come Spirit, Come Charm - Mary Lennox, Martha, Dickon, Fakir, Ayah, Lily, Company
  23. A Bit of Earth (reprise) - Lily, Rose, Capt Albert Lennox
  24. Disappear - Dr. Neville Craven
  25. Hold On - Martha
  26. Letter Song - Mary Lennox, Martha
  27. Where in the World - Archibald Craven
  28. How Could I Ever Know? - Lily, Archibald Craven
  29. Finale - Company

Original Broadway Cast

Mary Lennox: DAISY EAGAN, Kimberly Mahon (alt.)

In Colonial India, 1906:

Fakir: Peter Marinos.
Ayah: Patricia Phillips.
Rose, Mary's mother: Kay Walbye.
Captain Albert Lennox, Mary's father: Michael DeVries.
Lieutenant Peter Wright: Drew Taylor.
Lieutenant Ian Shaw: Paul Jackel.
Major Holmes: Peter Samuel.
Claire, his wife: Rebecca Judd.
Alice, Rose's friend: Nancy Johnston.

At Misselthwaite Manor, North Yorkshire, England, 1906:

Archibald Craven, Mary's uncle: MANDY PATINKIN.
Dr. Neville Craven, his brother: ROBERT WESTENBERG.
Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper: BARBARA ROSENBLAT.
Martha, a chambermaid: ALISON FRASER.
Dickon, her brother: JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL.
Ben, the gardener: TOM TONER.
Jane: Teresa De Zarn.
William: Frank DiPasquale.
Betsy: Betsy Friday.
Timothy: Alec Timerman.
Mrs. Winthrop: Nancy Johnston.

Swings: Kevin Ligon, Bill Nolte, Jane Seaman, Jennifer Smith.

Scenes and Settings

The action takes place in 1906.

Opening (Prologue): India; The Library at Misselthwaite Manor; A Train Platform in Yorkshire; The Door to Misselthwaite Manor; Mary's Room; The Gallery.

Act 1

Act 2


The Secret Garden boasts a breathtaking stage design by producer Heidi Landesman. Imagine a giant Victorian children's theatre, complete with painted wild animals and birds, faces staring out from side panels, and tall ships and Cupids sailing by overhead. Imagine too, the ghosts that haunt the mansion, helping to tell the story: Archibald's beautiful, dead wife, Lily; Mary's mother and father; her Ayah; and a Fakir; as well as soldiers and friends of Mary's parents.