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Secret Garden abundant with life

March 27, 2012

in Theater

By Alyssa Lee of Higginsville High School

A SECRET NO MORE Like a blooming garden in spring, life was abundant at Sacred Heart High School’s successful performance of THE SECRET GARDEN. Striking vocals, effective sets and truly believable emotion all come together in a show that is well-received by audiences.

THE SECRET GARDEN, based on a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is written by Marsha Norman with music by Lucy Simon. It tells the story of Mary Lennox, a young girl who is orphaned by an outbreak of cholera in colonial India. Forced to live with her hunchbacked uncle in England, she finds her late Aunt Lily’s garden. With care, love, and support from her friends, Mary slowly brings life back to the garden and to her family.

Megan Ortmeyer as the young Mary gives a very convincing performance of childlike yearning and spirit, and her energetic blocking adds some well-deserved attitude to funnier moments. Ortmeyer’s bold presence is countered by Nathan Edwards’s solemn countenance as her uncle, Archibald Craven. Bringing a more serious tone to the show, he manages to brilliantly capture a touching picture of love and loss. Edwards’s strong vocals are matched well by the stunning voice of Anna Wendt, who plays the late Lily Craven. Bridging the gap between life and death, these two bring a real, emotional connection to the audience in a way that is bound to leave some in tears.

Stephen Chappel, playing the part of Dr. Neville Craven, shows a picture of unrequited love in a way that earnestly portrays his skill as an actor. Moving from anger to despair, he effortlessly keeps true emotion. Kim Chmelir as Colin Craven, Mary’s cousin, brings a sense of hope to the stage, never losing her character through the course of the story. Martha, a chambermaid played by Allison Martin, adds a bit of lighthearted humor with her feisty disposition and well-maintained accent.

Although energy is lacking at times, the cast quickly rebounds and keeps moving forward. A creative set that makes use of two rotating columns allows a plethora of scene changes to take place quickly and efficiently. Swiftly switching from the manor to the garden and back with minor difficulties, it gives real insight to the setting. Props are plentiful and successful, even including live chicks that were raised by a student—talk about dedication!

Overall, Sacred Heart High School gives an admirable performance of THE SECRET GARDEN. Once word gets out, they shouldn’t be a secret for long.

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