In an all too familiar story of loss and grief, imagination and hope, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Secret Garden, which is co-produced with 5th Avenue Theatre Company of Seattle, will take you through a season of emotions. With an all-star cast and accomplished director David Armstrong at the helm, the performance is sure to resonate with audiences ranging from young to old, while awakening a newfound taste for imagination in all.
When Mary Lennox loses her parents at the age of 10 and is sent to live with her reclusive and widowed uncle, she finds herself lost in the midst of grief and hardship, until she discovers a garden hidden within the walls of her late aunt’s property. By going here to escape, Mary reawakens her imagination and discovers a joyful world where she finds reprieve from a reality laden with suffering.
David Armstrong, Artistic Director of 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, shared a little insight on his relationship with the musical and what the audience can expect with this production.
He is no stranger to the stage or to The Secret Garden, having directed the musical himself, and upon seeing the original Broadway production, has a firm grasp on his approach to the show. He says this time around, the show will be shorter and more streamlined than his previous productions, and despite having additional songs, it will tell the story more efficiently.
“It’s better to have a shorter show that gets right to the message than a longer one that drags on,” he says. “You want to capture your audience, not lose them.”
Armstrong believes The Secret Garden has one of the most beautiful scores written for musical theatre, and he’s excited to share it with the DC community, especially through some of the most talented actors from the DMV, Seattle and even London, like Michael Xavier, who just appeared opposite Glen Close in Sunset Boulevard. “The Secret Garden will be his US debut, so it’s very exciting,” he adds.
When asked how he’d like the audience to react to the show, Armstrong replied, “Well, first, I want them to cry [laughs]. Not from sadness, but from tears of joy from vicariously experiencing how a young girl emerges through trauma, anxiety and pain, and comes back to life.”
Armstrong ensures that, although The Secret Garden has melancholic undertones, the audience won’t leave the theatre feeling low.
“I shall see you in the garden, and spring will come and stay,” a key lyric in the musical and the show’s tagline, assures the audiences that there is hope, even in the most isolating of times.
“The garden is a metaphor that we [as humans] all have in us. It’s a place to find peace and love and joy.”
The Secret Garden opens November 15 and runs through December 31. Tickets are $59-$118.
Shakespeare Theatre Company: 610 F St. NW, DC; 202-547-1122; www.shakespearetheatre.org