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The Secret Garden -from book to musical


Mary Lennox in the Secret Garden Musical

Since the release of the book The Secret Garden in 1911, the story's main character, Mary Lennox, has captured readers' attention in what would become known as a classic of children's literature.


No doubt, other characters in the story are very compelling, but Mary garners the most attention. Rightly so, you would say, because she is the story's main focus. But modern representations of any story risk minimizing some character(s) while bringing more light and focus to others. It's also not uncommon for the entertainment industry to introduce narratives and plots that skew the original focus and intent of the author (Frances Hodgson Burnett, in this case).


Musical adaptations can sometimes be guilty of such injustices.


We should consider ourselves fortunate that this has not been the case with The Secret Garden. The story and the characters have consistently remained true to Ms. Burnett's original writing.


The Secret Garden was first made into a film (now lost) in 1919. MGM released The Secret Garden in 1949, mainly in black and white, with scenes set in the garden in Technicolor (they did something similar with The Wizard of Oz).


But the 1993 film by Francis Ford Coppola brought the story to modern viewer's attention. It starred Kate Maberley as Marry Lennox. It was the 8-year-old English girl's first big role (she'd later star in almost 30 other films). This Mary Lennox is the one that captured people's hearts by her embodiment of the character.


IOW - Kate Maberly rocked Marry Lennox.


But, wait, Tim.... we love musicals. What about The Secret Garden the Musical?


Great question. I love musicals too, btw.


The Secret Garden was first produced as musical theatre in 1986. But what we know and love today as The Secret Garden The Musical first made it to the stage on Broadway in 1991. It would get nominated for seven Tony Awards, win Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for 11-year-old Daisy Eagan as Mary. It ran for 709 performances at the St. James Theatre in NYC.


Secret Garden rehearsals are in full swing, and already obvious that Decatur Underground Theater's 2023 'Mary' will be no less spectacular than 1993 Kate. Interesting factoid: DUT's Mary's real name is Lily. Our Lily/Mary (9) is nearly the same age as Kate Maberly when she starred in the film.


Just like Kate/Mary - DUT's Lily/Mary is going to kill it.


See for yourself. Check it out at the Decatur Civic Center Mar 24-26 and Mar 31-Apr 2.


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