One of the most touching and beloved of all novels for children, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Edwardian classic The Secret Garden breaks out of its sentimental mold right from the outset by introducing readers to one of the sourest, least ingratiating protagonists in all of literature. Brought up in India by cold, standoffish parents, her every whim indulged by terrified servants, Mary Lennox doesn’t realize that no one can stand her company under she is orphaned at age nine by a cholera epidemic and she is forced to move in with a reclusive uncle in a big creepy manse on the edge of a Yorkshire moor. Only when she encounters her even more spoiled and imperious, allegedly disabled cousin Colin and a poor-but-adventurous and relentlessly upbeat local lad named Dickon does Mary begin to learn not to be insufferable.
Together the three children probe the mysteries of the overgrown walled garden that was locked away upon the death of her uncle’s young wife, and magical things begin to happen. This is a story that has resonated for decades with youngsters and grownups alike. Lucy Simon (Carly’s sister) set it to music, with a book by Marsha Norman, Pulitzer Prizewinner for ‘night, Mother. The original 1991 Broadway production of The Secret Garden won three Tony Awards and four Drama Desk Awards.
With summer here and the Hudson Valley in full bloom, it’s the perfect time for the Rhinebeck Theatre Society revival of The Secret Garden to open at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, with local gardens, florists and nurseries bringing the lobby and stage to blooming life. It opens this Friday, June 21 – most appropriately, on the Summer Solstice – and runs weekends through July 14. Dot Luongo directs a multigenerational cast that includes Janey Langan as Mary, Josh Lococo as Dickon, Sean Mahoney as Colin, Liz Thomas, Joshuah Patriarco, David Foster and Katie-Beth Anspach.
Performances of The Secret Garden begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with 3 p.m. Sunday matinées. Tickets cost $27 except for opening night, which is “Pay What You Will” (cash at the door only). To reserve your seat, call the box office at (845) 876-3080 or visit www.centerforperformingarts.org. The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck is located at 661 Route 308, 3.5 miles east of downtown Rhinebeck.
The Secret Garden
June 21-July 14, Friday/Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m., $27
Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck
661 Rte. 308, Rhinebeck