The Secret Garden

Date 22nd November 2014
Society Richmond Operatic Society
Venue Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
Type of Production Musical
Director Amanda Heitler
Musical Director Jonathan Heitler
Choreographer Prudence Nunn


Author: Peter Parlour

Well, this Society isn’t scared of bringing in new shows, or should I say shows that have not been seen around very much.  It is the first time I have seen the show.  It was very well done indeed, well-acted by the cast.  It tells the story of Mary, an unlovable child sent from India to be reunited with her only relation, Archibald Craven, after the death of her parents in a cholera epidemic.  The show brings out several relatives in ghostly fashion.  You had to concentrate to see who is living and who is dead.  It centres round her discovery of the tragedy lying behind an abandoned walled garden which belonged to Archie’s wife Lily.  Archie’s grief over losing his wife some ten years earlier stops him from realising any interest in the house or in his son’s life, and is worried that he might suffer the same fate as his wife. Mary was really excellently played by Miri Crawshaw, her singing being really strong and she was completely at ease in the very difficult part throughout the entire show. Archie was very well played by Dan  Connolly whose strong singing voice shone throughout the show.  Mary, with the help of Martha, the housemaid, played by Claire Latimer, Dickon, her brother, played by Nicholas Heitler, and Ben Weatherstaff,  played by Lou Holliday, brings the garden back to life.  Colin, Archie’s son, played by Alistair Lunn,  is confined to a wheelchair, but Mary, Dickon and Martha take him to the Secret Garden, and with some Indian type magic start his cure.  Dr Craven, Archie’s brother, played by Brian Martin, had treated Colin, which reduced him to his present state. Colin’s recovery begins to take place, and Archie can’t believe that Colin can walk again.  With many ghostly figures on the stage, the make-up team did a great job.  It was really a challenge, with difficult music to sing, and the Chorus did a sterling job.  Some of the leading parts were taken by Christine Meldon, Helen Cain, Mary’s mother, Bryn Roberts, her father, at very short notice, Karen  Brunyee and Rhoda Fraser.  The ghostly children were played by Lola Cross, Zoe Gleave and Rebecca Wem.  Amanda and Johnathan Heitler did a fantastic job in presenting such a difficult show, and how well they did.