The Secret Garden to be staged at Binghamton University


Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved children’s story, The Secret Garden, will be enacted by young people for young people, or for the young-at-heart.

Members of the Summer Youth Musical Workshop, who range in age from 12 to 18 years old, will present the musical version of The Secret Garden at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 14, and Sunday, August 15, in the Watters Theater, located in the Fine Arts Building on the Binghamton University campus.

Attracting the cream of the crop of area theater students, the workshop is headed up by Artistic Director Aaron Nicholson, Musical Director Brenda Dawe, Director Elaine Tamaru, with guest Musical Director Todd Robinson.

The show has been double cast. Morning workshop students will perform at 2 p.m. August 14 and 7:30 p.m. August 15. Evening workshop students will be featured at the 7:30 p.m. performance August 14 and the 2 p.m. show August 15.

The Secret Garden tells the story of Mary Lennox, a lonely little girl sent to live with her gloomy uncle Archibald in Yorkshire after being orphaned by a cholera epidemic in India. Still grieving over the loss of his beloved wife Lily, and distraught over the precarious health of his son, Archibald casts a dark shadow over the manor, until Mary discovers a secret garden that once belonged to Lily. By nursing the garden back to life, Mary also restores life to the grieving uncle and ailing son.

“Musically and dramatically, this story is already in the hearts of young and old,” said Director Nicholson. “It’s a familiar story that people love, even before they’ve seen the musical version,” he said.

On an adult level, playgoers will appreciate the mystical and metaphorical quality of the story. The young girl, dead inside with grief for her parents and lost life in India, finds a way to give to others. As she brings the garden and the lives of the inhabitants of the Yorkshire manor to life, she is able to let go of the past, and blooms herself, Nicholson said.

The musical score is challenging and operatic, running continuously under the dialogue, said Nicholson, infusing elements of Yorkshire folk country tunes with Indian traditional music. “It’s laden with beautiful melodies,” he said. The pit orchestra will reflect this diversity, including dulcimer, guitar and other folk instruments.

With music by Lucy Simon, the musical was first staged in 1991 with a cast that featured Daisy Eagan, Rebecca Luker and Mandy Patinkin. Marsha Norman won a Tony Award for “Best Book of a Musical,” while Eagan became the youngest actress ever to win a Tony for her portrayal of Mary. The production enjoyed a run of 706 performances.

Tickets, $9.50 general public and $5.50 for students, are available at the Anderson Center Box Office from noon to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, by calling 777-ARTS, online at or at the door.

The Summer Youth Musical Workshop is co-sponsored by the Department of Music, and the Office of Continuing Education and Outreach at Binghamton University.

For more information, contact Jane Zuckerman at 607-777-6969.

Last Updated: 9/17/13