In case you missed yesterday’s post, here were my thoughts on the 1992 national tour of The Secret Garden.
Just got home from seeing The Secret Garden at the Ahmanson. It was only the second preview so a lot can still change. This post won’t have much structure….just my unedited….VERY scattered thoughts.
Ashley was so excited to finally see this show.
I hoped Center Theater Group’s production would be so stunning that it would demand a transfer to Broadway, but while I liked this version, I didn’t fall in love with it. Still glad I saw it though and grateful that I got to introduced my children to the show. My 10-year-old daughter Ashley sang “The Girl I Mean to Be” for several weeks with her voice coach last year, but she knew little else about the show. Great idea to move that song to early in the first act. I think that started with the London production???
They cut “Quartet.” 😞 😞 😞 😞 😞
Me when I opened the program
and didn’t see “Quartet” among the listed songs.
That was the most glaring omission when I flipped through my program before the show. It’s one of my favorite songs in the score. When Neville started singing it in act two, I got excited…thought it had been resuscitated too late to be included in the program listing, but then the song petered out after Neville’s first verse. 😞 😞 😞 It also meant that Ali Ewoldt as Rose, who has such a gorgeous voice, didn’t get to flaunt her talents more.
Sierra Boggess was lovely as Lily. What a thrill to hear that rich, beautiful voice in person. Can’t believe I’d never seen her perform live before tonight. I was pleased she got entrance applause. Way to go, LA! Her “Come to My Garden” was a highlight. My father was blown away by her. “What a voice,” he kept whispering after every solo.
I missed the passing of red handkerchiefs to depict death that was used in the original. Here they make the ill-advised choice to have one person depict the disease, wearing a costume that makes her look like Cassandra from Cats wandered on to the wrong stage. Cats is next door!
When will Aaron Lazar play a role that lets him show off his voice again? Saw him a few years back as Larry Murphy in Dear Evan Hansen and wished he’d had a chance to sing more in that show too. He sang gloriously as usual. I admired his more nuanced approach to Neville’s deceit, jealousy, and betrayal. Now let’s give this fantastic vocalist the starring role he deserves!!
Although Race You to the Top of the Morning was listed in the program, it was MIA. 😞 😞 😞 Was it a last-minute cut? The beautiful, sad song only added to the loneliness suffocating Archie. The song was missed.
Did I mention they cut “Quartet?” 😞 😞 😞
Derrick Davis was a more spry, handsome, almost-charismatic Archibald Craven than his predecessors. I had trouble viewing the character as an awkward, gloomy social outcast who inexplicably won Lily’s heart much to the horror of her family. Kept forgetting he was a hunchback too. Rose mocks his big hump on his back in a flashback, but it’s not noticeable. I wasn’t wanting Quasimodo, but he had a slight case of the slouches at worst. I guess it’s a backhanded compliment to say the actor was too good-looking and too appealing in the role. I kept thinking, “Nice catch, Lily!” instead of thinking that Lily had found a hidden beauty in Archie that was imperceptible to everyone else. What a singing voice though!
My biggest quibble with the show in general is that it’s so heavy with little humor to break up the constant melancholy, so I appreciated that Emily Jewel Hoder found more humor in Mary than I remember the character having. Her scenes with Colin (Reese Levine) were especially amusing.
I took my ten-year-old daughter, Ashley, to see the show. Beforehand, she asked why three actresses were listed for Mary in the program. My sister explained to her that children rotated in the role. After act one, Ashley said she liked Hoder’s Mary a lot and would miss her portrayal in act two when another actress took over the role. My sister had to explain that the child roles aren’t rotated mid-performance. 🤣 It was a cute moment. 😍
Actually I took all three of my children to this production. My 14 year old son fell asleep fifteen minutes into act one but kept apologetically insisting at intermission that he had a bad night’s sleep. My 12-year-old son “liked parts of it.” Ashley, who loves musicals, thought act one was “kinda boring” but she loved act two so….
John-Michael Lyles made a charming Dickon. He had a strong voice but that reminds me…
Something felt off with the audio. I’ve never walked out of the Ahmanson Theatre feeling disappointed with the sound quality until last night. I don’t need the sound blared like rock music but with a subtle, understated show like this…it’s disappointing to strain sometimes to hear the voices over the music. Twenty minutes into the show, I thought, “Dang it. I should’ve sprung for orchestra seats because I’m having to work to listen to these songs.”
My husband complained of the low audio too….especially since he didn’t know the show that well. He said he missed so many lyrics which led to confusion following parts of it.
I liked but didn’t love the minimalist set. Aspects of it were cool…especially the twisty vines (branches?) doubling as a staircase and later lightning. But if you’re sitting in the side balcony seats as I was….be prepared to hear but not see chunks of several songs. A lot of obstructed views from the balcony seats. Sometimes I felt like yelling, “Keep moving!” when an actor would stop walking and sing while standing in an obscured part of the set.
Didn’t love the act one ending. Kept thinking of the original and how Mary runs upstage…opens the door and teases the audience by almost revealing the garden. What a thrilling, memorable moment. Here the act ended with Mary opening the door out into the audience and it just didn’t work for me.
“Lily’s Eyes” is such a thrilling song. It’s so damn good. Wish the staging of this number in this production hadn’t been so frantic…so dizzying. Too much movement. I preferred the original where the two men stand in the study and sing of Lily’s eyes while her portrait looms in the background. With a song that wonderful, you need only stand there and sing it, but in this staging…everyone was directed to keep moving about the stage and it detracted from the power of the song.
“Hold On” handily won the award for loudest applause of the night. Julia Lester as Martha sang it well…didn’t shout it which was appreciated.
Wished we’d seen a garden at the end. II didn’t mind because I thought we’d be rewarded with a gorgeous garden at the end, but it was a minimalist garden too…although I loved the petals-falling-from-above effect.
I took my Mom and Dad to see this show back in 1993. Thirty years ago. Wow. My 51-year-old dad was so confused…had no idea that half the people on stage were ghosts. He thought they were servants. This production was a lot more effective at establishing the dead from the living. My now 81-year-old dad…who didn’t remember the show very well…had no problem grasping the ghosts concept in this production.
Did I mention they they cut “Quartet?” 😞😞😞
Gorgeous costumes. Loved Mary’s gradual transformation mirrored in her costumes.
Can’t say I got emotionally invested in the show until the very end when Archie and Lily sang “How Could I Ever Know?” That song brought tears to my eyes. My sister was crying too…although were we crying because the sting of losing our mom is still fresh, and we were sitting next to my dad who seemed quite emotional himself? Who knows. But yeah…definitely teared up during that song.
Also, they cut “Quartet.” 😞😞😞
Liked that Lily was allowed to be a vibrant redhead in this version instead of that washed out blonde look that was given to the gorgeous Rebecca Luker…whom I’d hoped the show might be dedicated to…along with Lucy Simon…but alas, no, it wasn’t. I miss Rebecca Luker.
Audience was so quiet throughout the evening that I wasn’t sure if the show was landing with them, but they erupted into a big applause at the end of the show.
Small beef. Our party of 8 sat on the aisle seats. Midway through the curtain call…right after the ensemble bowed….a woman in the smack middle of our row decided to leave before the principal performers had bowed. Our entire row had to stand and allow her to cross in front of us. We missed all of the leads’ bows. “She must have important dinner plans,” I snarked to my sister…as the woman made her way past us. She heard me because she turned and sarcastically snapped, “Thank YOUUUUUUU!”
No, lady, thank you for obstructing my view and inconveniencing our entire row because you couldn’t wait the 15 extras seconds for the curtain call to finish. I hope you accomplished something monumental…like saving a life in those precious 15 seconds you saved. And the annoying part? I wound up passing her on the way to my car as she stood by the front door gabbing with a friend…so she was obviously only in a hurry to leave her seat…not in a hurry to leave the theater.
Oh, yeah, in case I haven’t mentioned it. This production cut “Quartet.” 😞😞😞
I don’t want to end these scattered thoughts on a negative note so….Sierra Boggess is a goddess.
Reminder: Did you know that this former theatre kid wrote a YA book about a high school mounting a production of Les Misérables? You can find it on Amazon and at other major bookstores.