Tuesday, November 10, 2015

review - THE SECRET GARDEN - Theater Works / Youth Works

Macie Thompson, Noah McNeil and Nathan Sheppard
photo; Moran Imaging
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 22nd.

 " Theater Works' Youth Works is currently presenting a fantastic production of the musical The Secret Garden with a cast made up entirely of talented teenagers. Based on the classic 1911 children's novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden tells the story of a young girl and the impact she has on a houseful of adults in early 1900s England. With clear direction, a cast that does justice to the emotional breadth of the story, and just a few very small shortcomings, the end result is a touching, moving and rewarding production....The Youth Works cast includes a trio of actors delivering lead performances on par with more experienced adult actors: Macie Thompson as Mary Lennox, Skyler Washburn as Archibald Craven, and Emily Benoit as Lily. Thompson is exceptional in portraying the sour, selfish girl who finds her purpose in life. She brings a vivid sense of realism to the role and has a lovely singing voice as well. Washburn is simply stunning as Archie, instilling the role with a deep sense of pain, sorrow and longing. His strong, earthy voice works well in making Archie's many songs have a deep connection to his emotional journey. Benoit's superb soprano voice makes Lily's songs soar and the duet she has with Washburn, "How Could I Ever Know?," is heartbreaking in its purity. The connection the two have is realistic and exceptionally moving....Chris Hamby's direction brings a perfect balance between the dramatic and the few comical moments, ensuring they all land effectively. ...Hamby's direction keeps the show moving forward at an effective pace and he creates some lovely scene pictures with his staging, using all areas of the expansive stage...while most of the leads have fairly good English accents, some of the ensemble don't even attempt one, which is a bit of a negative to the effectiveness of the show. Ken Goodenberger's musical direction achieves some glorious harmonies and expertly delivered solo moments...The scenery design by Michael Armstrong and lighting design from Tim Monson are both fine, though fairly simple, and work to effectively display the various locations, though some of the evening scenes are too brightly lit and the painting of Lily that is referred to several times in the show, but only seen at the very beginning of this production, is sorely missed. Matthew Sanders' sound design delivers crisp and clear vocals throughout. The Secret Garden is a musical with a superb book and an excellent score that combine to tell an emotional story with realistic characters. The fact that a cast composed entirely of youth under the age of twenty are able to achieve such a moving production is a testament to Chris Hamby and Theater Works' superb company of talented Youth Works actors."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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