Photo: @danny_with_a_camera

Based on the beloved 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the multi Tony award-winning 1991 Broadway musical adaptation of The Secret Garden has not been seen in a mainstream professional version in London since its short West End run in 2001. Based on the screaming ovation from the Palladium audience (of all ages), it seems like we’ve been waiting a long time.

The musical’s score (Lucy Simon) is lush, romantic, and sweet, with ingenious orchestrations (William David Brohn) that make a fifteen-piece band sound like a full orchestra. The music could run the risk of sounding too slow or schmaltzy, but conductor Adam Hoskins (and a phenomenal sound tech team) gave us a full-bodied, even bombastic sound, which kept everything energised.

As cold, insecure father Archibald “Archie” Craven, Hadley Fraser’s stunning tenor absolutely stole the show, not least in the show’s most famous hit, “Lily’s Eyes”. As the character’s brother, Neville Craven, Westlife star Mark Feehilly gave us a rounded, legit sound, but the celeb casting could not make up for lack of acting experience.

As young, sickly Colin, child actor Isaac Lancel-Watkinson fully embodied the difficult role, with a powerful alto. As child protagonist Mary Lennox, young star Darcy Jacobs enchanted us with her beautiful singing voice, but the casting didn’t seem quite right for this bratty, outspoken character. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait so long to enjoy this beautiful, powerful show again.

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