REVIEW:  The Secret Garden

By Michael Mulhern

The Denver Center Company enchants us with a true masterpiece in this stunningly gorgeous musical.

The Tony Award Winning classic, THE SECRET GARDEN (Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman, Music by Lucy Simon, and based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett) is playing now through May 28th on the Stage Theatre of the Denver Center. The beloved classic The Secret Garden blossoms anew in this enchanting musical full of beautiful melodies. When young Mary is sent to live with her uncle after the death of her parents, she finds herself surrounded by distant relatives who are overcome by grief and fear. But when she uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden, she becomes determined to revive the beauty that once flourished. Surrounded by spirits of the past, she uses the magic of hope to help the world around her grow once again.

I must admit I had my doubts about this show. While it has haunting melodies, beautiful duets, and lovely harmonies; with quite an interesting story, the show is  over 25 years ago. All my reservations were put to rest by this stunning and memorable production by the Denver Center Company that elevated this already exquisite work of art. I am proud to say that this show is probably one of the finest musical theatre productions I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing onstage. The entire cast and crew truly made this production a masterpiece!

Carey Rebecca Brown’s voice soared as Lily. From Come to My Garden to How Could I Ever Know (her duet with Archibald that had everyone in tears) her gorgeous instrument delighted everyone and I could listen to her all day. Sean Palmer showed such range as Archibald from the torture of his loss (A Girl in the Valley, and Where in the World), to his tender moment with his son (Race You to the Top of the Morning), and his resolution (How Could I Ever Know) he commanded the stage. His brother, Dr. Neville Craven (Michael Halling) was also exceptional and I absolutely loved their duet (Lily’s Eyes). Zoe Manarel owned the stage and took the audience along for her story as the precocious Mary Lennox. I was quite impressed by this talented and accomplished young adult and see great things in her future. Sean Reda was adorable as Archibald’s son, Colin and was a great pairing with Mary Lennox. Emily Walton gave us compassion and warmth as Martha and I loved her humor (A Fine White Horse) and strength (Hold On). Liam Forde lit up the stage as the charming mentor, Dickon especially with Winter’s on the Wing and Wick. I also have to give a standing ovation to the entire (ghostly) chorus for their amazing and harmonious voices, and elegant choreography. Outstanding Musical Numbers include There’s a Girl, I Heard Someone Crying, A Girl in the Valley, Lily’s Eyes, Come to My Garden, How Could I Ever Know.

I was thoroughly impressed by creative team of Jenn Thompson (Director), Gregg Coffin (Musical Director), and Patricia Wilcox (Choreographer). The show flowed so effortlessly and beautifully from scene to scene with an amazingly strong ensemble that kept us transfixed from beginning to end. Scenic Designer Wilson Chin should be awarded for his gorgeous design of this show. He, along with Lighting Designer Philip S. Rosenberg, Sound Designer Zach Williamson and Costume Design David Toser transported us from India, to the gloomy manor and the rebirth of the garden. I love their simple yet stunning sets and the intricate woodwork design of the manor was fabulous. I also have to compliment the stage crew for never missing a beat with all of the set transitions that kept popping out on the stage floor.

Hope is powerful magic and casting a spell on audiences at the Denver Center! The SECRET GARDEN is now playing through May 28th at the Stage Theater of the Denver Center. For tickets or more information, contact the Denver Center Box Office by calling 303-893-4100 or online at



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