The new, state-of-the-art Barn Theatre in Cirencester has opened to critical acclaim for both the 200-seat venue and for its inaugural production, this brilliant new, folk-influenced, actor-musician take on the Tony Award-winning family musical The Secret Garden.
I’ve already seen it once, it’s wonderful and the venue and setting, in the heart of the Cotswolds, are idyllic. So I’m excited and honoured, as the production extends its limited season for a further fortnight (yes, extending their first-ever show that’s been playing to packed houses), to be invited back to chair the theatre’s first post-show discussion.
Based on the classic 1911 children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden is a powerful story about one small orphan girl shining hope into the desolate lives of her new-found relatives. Challenging, moving and inspiring for all ages.
After losing both parents to cholera in India, young Mary Lennox is sent to England to live with her hermit uncle, Archibald Craven. Inside his haunting secluded house, Mary meets his bedridden son, Colin, all alone with his mother’s death on his conscience. Everything changes when Mary decides to revive the beauty of her Aunt Lily’s overgrown secret garden.
The Secret Garden has script and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman with a score by Lucy Simon. The musical originally premiered on Broadway in 1991, going on to win three Tony Awards.
Dominic Shaw directs a 12-strong actor-musician ensemble comprising Daniella Piper (as Mary), David Haydn (Archibald Craven), Jaimie Pruden (Lily Craven), Minal Patel (Neville Craven), Celeste De Veazey (Colin Craven), Jenny O Leary (Martha), Alex James Ellison (Dickon), Sue Appleby, Steffan Rizzi, Jamie Ross, Celia Cruwys Finnigan and Ben Boskovic.
The Secret Garden marks the culmination of three years’ renovation and development work at the 200-seat Cirencester venue, under the artistic direction of former West End actor Iwan Lewis.
For the post-show Q&A on Saturday 14 April 2018, I’ll be joined by director Dominic Shaw and the THE SECRET GARDEN company, as well as artistic director Iwan Lewis, who’ll share more about the theatre’s future plans.