Northwest NEWS

December 13, 1999


5th Avenue's 'Secret Garden' blooms with talent

by Deborah Stone

   5th Avenue Theatre's The Secret Garden is alive with visual, emotional, and musical enchantment.

   Based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this timeless classic captivates young and old and has become a jewel of musical theatre stage. The story combines the feelings of loss and loneliness with the power of love and regeneration to mend broken hearts and spirits.

   It is the Victorian era tale of young Mary Lennox (played with incredible maturity and delightful charm by Federal Way resident Cara Rudd), who after being recently orphaned, is sent off to live on a dark and gloomy estate with her grieving Uncle Archibald (well-known Broadway talent Mark Jacoby). Initially, Mary is disagreeable and miserable, but after discovering a secret garden, which had once been a special haven of her deceased Aunt Lily, she sets out to bring about positive changes in her life and also in the lives of the others around her. The garden represents rebirth and provides hope for all the characters as they begin to heal their emotional wounds and learn to love again.

   The Secret Garden is a lush and magical production with beautiful lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman and melodic music by Lucy Simon. Sets are wonderfully creative, from suspended suits of armor and antique chairs to intricately-woven walls of gnarled vines.

   Throughout the production, Mary's parents, their friends, the family's servants from India, and Archibald's late wife Lily, inhabit the stage as a ghostly, ethereal presence. Dressed in white suits and long gowns, they represent the past, but are also used to provide direction to the living.

   This show is chock full of gifted actors/singers whose crystal voices resonate with passion and power. Additional standouts include Patti Cohenour (Lily), Kendra Kassebaum (Martha), and Shonn Wiley (Dicken).

   The Secret Garden runs through Dec. 19 and is a wonderful holiday treat. For ticket information, call 206-292-ARTS.