The Secret Garden (musical)
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The Secret Garden Musical
The Secret Garden
Secret Garden logo.jpg
MusicLucy Simon
LyricsMarsha Norman
BookMarsha Norman
BasisThe Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Productions1989 Virginia Stage Company
1991 Broadway
1995 Australia
2001 West End
2016 West End
AwardsTony Award for Best Book of a Musical

The Secret Garden is a musical based on the 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The musical's script and lyrics are by Marsha Norman, with music by Lucy Simon. It premiered on Broadway in 1991 and ran for 709 performances.

The story is set in the early years of the 20th century.[n 1] Mary Lennox, a young English girl born and raised in the British Raj, is orphaned by a cholera outbreak when she is ten years old. She is sent away from India to Yorkshire, England, to live with relatives whom she has never met. Her own personality blossoms as she and a young gardener bring new life to a neglected garden, as well as to her sickly cousin and uncle.


The musical had its world premiere at the Wells Theatre, Norfolk, Virginia, in a Virginia Stage Company production, running from November 28, 1989 to December 17, 1989. Direction was by R.J. Cutler, with scenic design by Heidi Landesman, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski and costumes by Martin Pakledinaz.[1]

The Secret Garden premiered on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 25, 1991, and closed on January 1993, after 709 performances. The musical was directed by Susan H. Schulman with choreography by Michael Lichtefeld. The cast featured Daisy Eagan as Mary Lennox, Mandy Patinkin, Rebecca Luker, Robert Westenberg and John Cameron Mitchell. It won the 1991 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Daisy Eagan), and Best Scenic Design (Heidi Landesman).[2] Eagan at age 11 was the youngest female recipient of a Tony Award. The set resembled an enormous Victorian toy theatre with pop-out figures, large paper dolls, and Joseph Cornell-like collage elements.[3] Costumes were by Theoni V. Aldredge, who was nominated for the Tony Award, Best Costume Design.

The wardrobe is on display at the Costume World Broadway Collection in Pompano Beach, Florida.[]

The musical was produced in Australia in 1995 in Brisbane (opened on 27 July 1995), Sydney (opened on 7 September 1995), and Melbourne (opened on 20 December 1995). Directed by Schulman and with sets by Landesman, the cast starred Philip Quast as Neville Craven and Anthony Warlow as Archibald Craven.[4]

A heavily revised Royal Shakespeare Company production ran at Stratford (UK) from November 13, 2000 until January 27, 2001, with Philip Quast and Meredith Braun and directed by Adrian Noble, staged and choreographed by Gillian Lynne.[5][6] The RSC production transferred to the West End Aldwych Theatre, running from February 2001 until June 2001.[7][8]

The Secret Garden was produced by Mirvish Productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto from February 13, 2011 to March 19. The production was originally produced at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland.[9]

The Secret Garden returned to the West End for 6 weeks in July and August 2016 at the Ambassadors Theatre with a company of child actors, directed by Rupert Hands.[10]

Washington DC's Shakespeare Theatre Company, in collaboration with Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, presented the musical from November 15, 2016, to January 8, 2017, directed by David Armstrong.[11]Michael Kahn (Artistic Director) noted that this production is "an active reworking" of the musical.[11] Daisy Eagan returned to the show as the chambermaid Martha, with Anya Rothman as Mary, Michael Xavier as Archibald Craven, and Josh Young as Dr. Neville Craven.[11][12][13] The production has revisions which include new songs, deletions (including the songs "Round-Shouldered Man", "Quartet", "Race You to the Top of the Morning") and re-arranging, but overall it condenses and streamlines the story to a shorter running time under Norman and Simon's involvement. In early 2017, it was announced that the production would transfer onto Broadway. The production performed at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle from April 14 to May 6, 2017 and at the Theatre Under the Stars in Houston,Texas from October 10-22, 2017, and had plans to go to other theatres across North America before going to Broadway; however, the production's timeline has since been canceled.[14][15]

On February 12, 2018, it was announced that the first Broadway revival will be presented during the 2018-2019 season. The director/choreographer is expected to be Warren Carlyle, with cast, theatre and other details to be announced.[16] A lab production will be held from May 19, 2018 to June 8 prior to the Broadway revival, directed by Warren Carlyle. Taking part in the developmental production are, among others, Sierra Boggess as Lily, Matt Doyle as Albert, Drew Gehling as Neville, Clifton Duncan as Archibald and Brooklyn Shuck as Mary.[17] The revival did not come to pass in the 2018-2019 season and there has been no further word on the project. When Warren Carlyle was interviewed by Ken Davenport for The Producer's Perspective Podcast in May 2019, he revealed that the revival is still on the table. They have a cast lined up, they're just waiting for the right theatre to be available.[18]

In August 2019, it was announced that Opera Australia and the Gordon Frost Organisation would stage the 25th anniversary production, again directed by Susan H. Schulman, opening in Sydney in August 2020, with a Melbourne season to follow.[19] It was also further announced that Anthony Warlow would be reprising his role as Archibald Craven.[20]


The Secret Garden was The Third Annual World AIDS Day Benefit Concert, held on December 5, 2005, at the Manhattan Center Studios Grand Ballroom, New York City, directed by Stafford Arima and produced by Jamie McGonnigal.[21] The cast featured Laura Benanti as Lily, Steven Pasquale as Archie, Will Chase as Neville, Celia Keenan-Bolger as Martha, David Canary as Ben, Jaclyn Neidenthal as Mary, Struan Erlenborn as Colin, Max von Essen as Albert, Sara Gettelfinger as Rose, and Michael Arden as Dickon. The cast also included Matt Cavenaugh, Jenny Powers, Ben Magnuson, Shonn Wiley, Reshma Shetty, Deborah S. Craig, Nehal Joshi, and Kate Shindle, with Barbara Rosenblat returning to the role she created, Mrs. Medlock.

Manhattan Concert Productions presented a concert production of The Secret Garden at Lincoln Center for two nights on February 21 and 22, 2016, with Sydney Lucas starring as Mary Lennox.[22] She was joined by the original "Mary Lennox", Daisy Eagan, who now plays the role of Martha, and Barbara Rosenblat, returning to her original role of Mrs. Medlock. Also in the cast were Ramin Karimloo as Archibald Craven, Sierra Boggess as Lily, Cheyenne Jackson as Neville Craven, Ben Platt as Dickon, Jere Shea as Ben,[23] Oscar Williams as Colin Craven, Nikki Renée Daniels as Rose, Josh Young as Captain Albert Lennox and Telly Leung as Fakir.[24][25]

Rebecca Luker (the original Lily) appeared in a benefit concert for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York and Western New York at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on January 11, 2016.[26] The concert was originally scheduled to be one night only, but a second performance was added for January 17, 2016. Daisy Eagan, the original "Mary Lennox" was the host for the concerts.[27]

The Secret Garden (in concert) was presented in Toronto, Canada, in January 2017 as the inaugural show of a newly formed theatre company Podium Concert Productions, headed by Producer Peter da Costa and Conductor Mark Camilleri.[28][29][]

In February 2019, The Secret Garden was presented by the Virginia Stage Company in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in a concert to celebrate the Company's 40th anniversary. This was the first time that The Secret Garden has been staged there since the World Premiere in 1989.[30]


This synopsis describes the original Broadway production; the reworked London production altered this sequence by moving or omitting several scenes and songs.

Act I

Mary Lennox, a 10-year-old English girl who has lived in India since birth, dreams of English nursery rhymes and Hindi chants ("Opening").[n 2] She awakes to learn that her parents and nearly everyone she knew in India, including her Ayah, have died of cholera. Found by survivors of the epidemic (officers who worked alongside her father), Mary is sent back to England to live with her only remaining relations ("There's a Girl").

(Throughout the show, these and other songs are sung by a chorus of ghosts, referred to in the libretto as "dreamers," who serve as narrators and Greek chorus for the action.)

Her mother's sister, Lily,[31] died many years ago. Lily's widower is Archibald Craven, a hunchback who is still overcome by grief. The management of his manor house, Misselthwaite, is largely left to his brother, Dr. Neville Craven.[31] The house is haunted by ghosts (e.g. Lily, Ayah, Fakir, Rose, Albert Lennox, officers from India, etc.) and spirits of Archibald's and Mary's pasts, due to their holding on to what used to be. The housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock, coldly welcomes Mary to Yorkshire on her arrival ("The House Upon the Hill"). Mary has difficulty sleeping her first night there ("I Heard Someone Crying") as she and Archibald both mourn their losses. The next morning, Mary meets Martha, a young chambermaid who encourages Mary to go play outside by telling her about the surrounding moorland and grounds ("If I Had a Fine White Horse"), in particular, a secret (hidden) garden. Meanwhile, Archibald remains submerged in his memories of Lily ("A Girl In the Valley"), while ghosts waltz to Lily's and Archibald's serenading.

Mary explores the garden, laid out in Victorian style as a topiary maze, as do Ben Weatherstaff, an old gardener, and Martha's brother Dickon ("It's a Maze"), each with a different agenda. Ben tells Mary that the secret garden has been locked since Lily's death, as it reminds Archibald of her. Dickon invokes the spring ("Winter's On the Wing") in a rustic druid-like fashion; he claims to converse with animals and teaches Mary to speak the Yorkshire dialect to an English robin ("Show Me the Key"). The bird leads Mary to the key for the garden, but does not show Mary the door.

Archibald has a formal meeting with his niece, who asks him for a bit of earth ("A Bit of Earth") to plant a garden of her own; he is startled and compares her to Lily for their shared horticultural interests. As the Yorkshire gloom turns to rain and "Shakes the souls of the dead" ("Storm I"), Archibald and his brother Neville both notice that Mary also physically resembles her aunt, with whom both men were in love. ("Lily's Eyes")

As the rain continues, Mary again hears someone crying ("Storm II"), but this time she finds the source: her cousin Colin, confined to bed since his birth, when his mother Lily died. He has been in bed his entire life because Archibald feared that Colin would also become a hunchback. In reality, Colin's spine is perfectly fine but his father is convinced that he has passed on his curse. Colin confides in his cousin his dreams of ("A Round-Shouldered Man") who comes to him at night and reads to him from his book "of all that's good and true". However, just as it seems they have become friends, Neville and Mrs. Medlock burst in and dismiss her angrily, telling her she is never to see Colin again. As the storm reaches its peak, Mary runs outside and finds the door to the garden ("Final Storm").

Act II

Mary has a reverie about ("The Girl I Mean to Be,") with "a place I can go when I am lost." In reality, the garden is like her uncle and Mary herself, neglected and half-wild.

Archibald relates a dream to Neville about seeing Lily and Mary together in the garden. But Neville's dreams are darker: recalling his unrequited love for Lily, Neville wants Archibald to leave Misselthwaite entirely to him. The two brothers' musings are interwoven with ghostly echoes of old arguments between Lily and her sister Rose (Mary's mother) about Archibald's suitability as a prospective husband and father ("Quartet"). At Neville's urging, Archibald leaves for the Continent, pausing only to read a fairy tale to Colin as the boy sleeps ("Race You To the Top of the Morning").

Mary asks Dickon for help with the garden, which appears dead; Dickon explains that it is probably just dormant and that "somewhere there's a single streak of green inside it" ("Wick"). Mary tells Colin about the discovered garden, but he is initially reluctant to go outside until encouraged by a vision of his mother ("Come to My Garden/Lift Me Up"). Mary, Dickon, and Martha clandestinely bring Colin to the garden in a wheelchair. In the garden, the exercise and fresh air begin to make Colin well ("Come Spirit, Come Charm"). The dreamers sing the praises of the renewed garden ("A Bit of Earth (Reprise)").

Back in the house, Mary faces down Neville as he threatens to send her away to boarding school. Martha tells Mary she must ("Hold On")--"when you see a man who's ragin'/And he's jealous and he fears/That you've walked through walls he's hid behind for years..." Mary writes to Archibald ("Letter Song") urging him to come home.

At first Archibald feels defeated and frustrated ("Where In the World"), but Lily's ghost convinces him to return ("How Could I Ever Know"). Entering the garden, he finds Colin completely healthy; in fact, he is beating Mary in a footrace as Archibald walks through the door. Archibald, a changed man, accepts Mary as his own, and the dreamers invite all to "stay here in the garden," as Lily and Mary's parents Albert and Rose promise to look over them for the rest of their days ("Finale").

Changes from the original novel

Burnett's novel primarily focused on Mary and her interactions with Colin, Martha, and Dickon. The musical adds more emphasis to the adult characters by presenting (and to some extent, inventing) the shared history entwining the two families. Originally, Burnett stated that the name of Archibald's wife was Lilias, and that she was the sister of Mary Lennox's father; in the musical, Colin's and Mary's mothers are sisters named Lily and Rose respectively.

In the book, Colin's private physician is an otherwise unnamed poor cousin of Archibald Craven; Colin privately remarks to Mary that Dr. Craven is the next heir to Misselthwaite and "always looks cheerful when [Colin's health] is worse", but Burnett also states that Dr. Craven is "not an unscrupulous man, though he was a weak one, and he did not intend to let [Colin] run into actual danger." The musical tightens the doctor's conflict of interest and makes him the primary antagonist as Archibald's brother, Dr. Neville Craven, who once hopelessly loved Lily and whom Mary expressly accuses of wanting Colin to die for the sake of his inheritance.


Characters, casts, and recordings

Character Broadway
West End
World AIDS Day Benefit Concert
Lincoln Center Concert
West End Revival
Make-A-Wish Benefit Concert
Shakespeare Theatre Company
5th Avenue Theatre
Pre-Broadway Lab
Mary Lennox Daisy Eagan Samantha Fiddes / Sarah Ogden Natalie Morgan Jaclyn Neidenthal Sydney Lucas Alana Hinge Gabriella Pizzolo Anya Rothman Bea Corley Brooklyn Shuck
Archibald Craven Mandy Patinkin Anthony Warlow Philip Quast Steven Pasquale Ramin Karimloo George Mulryan Bradley Dean Michael Xavier Tam Mutu Clifton Duncan
Lily Craven Rebecca Luker Marina Prior Meredith Braun Laura Benanti Sierra Boggess Scarlett Smith Rebecca Luker Lizzie Klemperer Sierra Boggess
Dr. Neville Craven Robert Westenberg Philip Quast Peter Polycarpou* Will Chase Cheyenne Jackson Stuart Nunn Max von Essen Josh Young Drew Gehling
Martha Alison Fraser Susan-Ann Walker Linzi Hateley Celia Keenan-Bolger Daisy Eagan Samantha Bingley Cortney Wolfson Daisy Eagan Amber Iman
Dickon John Cameron Mitchell Tom Blair Craig Purnell Michael Arden Ben Platt Matthew James Nicholas Tom Deckman Charlie Franklin Adam Chanler-Berat
Colin Craven John Babcock Bart Ritchie / Ross Hannaford Luke Newberry Struan Erlenborn Oscar Williams Ethan Quinn Eli Tokash Henry Baratz Guthrie Greenwood Bettinger Cameron Mann
Ben Weatherstaff Tom Toner Raymond Duprac Freddie Davies David Canary Jere Shea Thomas Cove Bill Nolte Seán G. Griffin Jim Norton
Rose Kay Walbye Carolyn Ferrie Carmen Cusack Sara Gettelfinger Nikki Renée Daniels Olivia Plummer Ali Ewoldt Brittany Baratz Ali Ewoldt
Captain Albert Lennox Michael DeVries Shaun Murphy Alistair Robbins Max von Essen Josh Young Joe Edmunds Jason Forbach Matt Doyle
Mrs. Medlock Barbara Rosenblat June Salter Dilys Laye Barbara Rosenblat Frances Mercanti-Anthony Catherine Flye Marianne Medlock Sally Ann Triplett

(*On the cast recording, this role was sung by Christian Patterson)

A full recording was made with the original Broadway cast, including all of the songs listed above as well as some interstitial material, and released on CD by Columbia Records in 1991 (catalog number CK 48817).

An eight-song "highlights" album with Fiddes, Ritchie, and the rest of the Australian cast was released on CD by Polydor Records Australia in 1995 (catalog number 579 997-2).

The original London production was partially reworked for production by the Royal Shakespeare Company, reducing the emphasis on the adult characters to return the plot closer to the original book. A full recording of this version was released on CD by First Night Records in 2001.

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production


  1. ^ In the original script of the play, the date is indicated as 1906, but the libretto for the Broadway cast album has the conflicting date of 1911.
  2. ^ The lyrics are transcribed in the script and libretto, but not translated; phrased in poetic language, their approximate meaning is "Lo, the season of magic/ The summer days/ Prayers, rituals, and artifacts/ May deliver her from sickness."


  • Norman, Marsha (book and lyrics) and Lucy Simon (music), based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden. Samuel French Inc, 1993.
  • Norman, Marsha (1991). The Secret Garden (CD booklet). New York, New York: Columbia Records. CK48817.
  1. ^ "Stage Company To Have World Premiere Of Musical" Daily Press, October 23, 1989
  2. ^ "The Secret Garden Broadway Production", accessed October 14, 2015
  3. ^ Rich, Frank. "Garden: The Secret Of Death And Birth", The New York Times, April 26, 1991
  4. ^ The Secret Garden listing, accessed February 27, 2009
  5. ^ Royal Shakespeare Company press release Archived September 15, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Morley, Sheridan. "British Theater : RSC's Smashing Secret Garden", The New York Times, December 6, 2000
  7. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Revamped London Secret Garden May Grow on Broadway",, February 28, 2001
  8. ^ Wolf, Matt. "Review: The Secret Garden, Variety, March 5, 2001
  9. ^ Terauds, John. "The Secret Garden: Can't see the tender shoots for the grown-up trees" The Star, February 13, 2011
  10. ^ Hutchison, David. " 'The Secret Garden' to make West End return with 300 child stars", May 3, 2016
  11. ^ a b c The Secret Garden, accessed November 20, 2016
  12. ^
  13. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Daisy Eagan, Josh Young, Michael Xavier Cast in Secret Garden", Playbill, October 4, 2016
  14. ^ "Broadway Revival of The Secret Garden in the Works" by Robert Viagas, Playbill, January 6, 2017
  15. ^
  16. ^ McPhee, Ryan. " 'The Secret Garden' Will Return to Broadway, Directed by Warren Carlyle" Playbill, February 12, 2018
  17. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "Sierra Boggess, Matt Doyle, More Set for Lab Presentation of Broadway-Bound 'The Secret Garden'" Playbill, May 9, 2018
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth. "Pasquale, Chase, Benanti, Arden, Von Essen, Keenan-Bolger and Gettelfinger Enter The Secret Garden Dec. 5",, December 5, 2005
  22. ^ "Breaking News: Tony Nominee Sydney Lucas to Star in Manhattan Concert Productions' The Secret Garden in 2016". Retrieved .
  23. ^ "The Secret Garden Concert",, December 23, 2015
  24. ^ The Secret Garden, January 28, 2016
  25. ^ Garcia, Kevin Thomas. "Hot Photos! First Look at the Starry 'The Secret Garden' Concert at Lincoln Center!", February 22, 2016
  26. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "The Secret Garden Benefit Staging, With Rebecca Luker and Daisy Eagan, Blooms Tonight", Playbill, January 11, 2016
  27. ^ Viagas, Robert. "Wick! Original Cast Member Daisy Eagan Joins Rebecca Luker in Secret Garden Benefit; Second Performance Added", Playbill, October 26, 2015
  28. ^ " 'The Secret Garden', Jan. 13, 2017 to Jan. 15, 2017", retrieved February 14, 2018
  29. ^ "Podium Concert Productions to Present 'The Secret Garden'", September 28, 2016
  30. ^ "The Secret Garden". Virginia Stage Company. Retrieved .
  31. ^ a b "The Secret Garden Plot and production listing",
  32. ^ "AusStage". Retrieved .

External links

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