What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

14 January 2017

Will It Grow? Secret Garden, Round Two

I do not consider myself particularly lucky, especially when it comes to critical life moments like choosing a checkout queue at the supermarket or finding a good parking space, but sometimes, some really great times, I'm the luckiest person alive.

Signed by (top to bottom) Jason
Forbach (Albert Lennox), Jared
Michael Brown (Lieutenant
Wright), Maya Maniar (Ayah),
& Henry Baratz (Colin Craven).
I had one of those great times when I got to return to D.C. only a couple weeks after I saw The Secret Garden to see it a second time. My show ticket and place to stay were provided by other kind and generous folks, making this trip both awesome and affordable. Thank you, kind and generous folks!

This show closed in D.C. last weekend, but if you're in Seattle, you're in luck--they're coming to you soon. Don't miss it. Please don't miss it. If nothing else, you'll get to see it in the spring, which is obviously the correct season for a show that includes a song called "Winter's on the Wing."

Spoilers after the jump.

I spent the first 30 minutes of the show thinking, "Whoa, I forgot about that!" over and over. I loved many of the same moments, though, despite trying really hard to watch for different things. Carriage ride from the station to the house still fantastic, "Lily's Eyes" still breathtaking, "Where in the World" + "How Could I Ever Know" still left me lying on the floor in a puddle of tears. Ghosts still my favourite. I love the ghosts.

Some of the things that stood out this time:

The ghosts appearing when they're mentioned. Mary tells Martha that Ayah has always dressed her, and Ayah dashes into the bedroom. Mary mentions her mother, and here comes Rose as if she were called. And my favourite: the ghosts manipulate the hedges that make up the maze in the garden, and when Mary asks Ben about ghosts, they all come bounding out of their hiding spots to listen more closely. Fantastic.

They really do say "friggin." I listened to this interview with Daisy Eagan (the original Mary, now playing Martha) and Anya Rothman (Mary), and toward the end Ms. Eagan says that the worst thing they say in the show is "friggin." So, naturally, I took to Twitter to ask who says "friggin," since I totally missed it. I was listening for it the second time around, and sure enough: it was Lieutenant Wright, at the dinner party flashback, with the closest thing this show has to swearing. I giggled, even though they were all about to die. Again.

Archie visiting Colin while he was sleeping. Remember how I said last time, after there was a bit of a scenery snafu so that we had to watch the second half of the show on an empty stage, that I didn't even want to see the rest of the show with sets because it was so amazing without? Yeah, it turns out that this particular scene, when Archie professes his love and care for his sleeping son while Lily watches over them from her portrait, is incredible with all the set pieces in place. Having her portrait onstage makes their family seem nearly complete, just for a few minutes, almost--while in reality Archie is terribly, desperately alone with his thoughts and emotions.

Lily, Rose, & Albert in the garden. When Colin finally makes it to the garden, he asks Ben how Lily (his mother) died. I happened to be looking in the right place at the right time to see Rose and Albert slowly turn to look at Lily, and I wondered, "Did they just now notice that Lily is here?" And then at the end of this scene, they sing a reprise of "A Bit of Earth," and the two sisters hug it out. And then I realised that all of Rose and Lily's interactions up until then had been in flashbacks. So maybe that is when Rose finally noticed that Lily was there all the time. Which adds an extra layer of magic to the garden, not only because Mary and Colin found peace and healing there, but also because the two sisters were reunited at last.

Neville is almost not so bad. Almost. Act I Neville is even a bit of a sympathetic character--the ghosts say of him that "naught remains but duty," and it's obvious that he's put his own life aside to look after Lily's son, like a 1911 model Severus Snape. (There are plenty of Harry Potter parallels in this show. It's kind of wild.) But as the show progresses, his bitterness takes over, and by the end he's lost any sympathy the audience may have conjured for him. His real low point (IMO) is not so much that he goes against Archie's express orders regarding Mary and school, but that he grossly misrepresents Archie's true feelings to both children. But for Martha's interference, he would have succeeded in destroying Mary's trust in and affection for her uncle, much as he'd already convinced Colin that his father hated him. Which is why the audience is pretty happy when Neville leaves the garden sad (and why, incidentally, I really want Rose and Albert to stick around long enough to make Neville miserable. We'll show you haunted, buddy).

How great is Auntie Lily? Obviously, Mama Lily is wonderful and the driving force behind Colin's recovery, but she has a few moments of being Auntie Lily, the unseen protector to the niece she never knew--leading her to the garden, leading her to Colin, and bringing Archie back home, as much for Mary's sake as for Colin's. A plague upon the series of awful events that kept Mary from ever knowing her Auntie.

Anya Rothman, the youngest cast member, probably has the most consistent English accent. (You know, apart from the guy who actually is English.) I imagine it doesn't hurt that she also has the most lines and gets to practice a lot more than everyone else.

Calling all the world to come, indeed.
The stage after end of the show, with the garden
in full bloom.
The garden reveal got applause this time, by gum. Possibly because I started it. (I don't usually start applause, just because if I did that I would never stop. I take my cues from others who get less swept away.) There was no way I was sitting quietly through that moment twice. It was hard enough keeping quiet the first time.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is a beautiful, powerful, incredibly healing show. And there's more good news: a Broadway revival is coming! I'm so very happy about this, not necessarily because I'll be able to get to New York to see it, but rather because I want a cast album of this reworked version. As soon as possible, please.

Until three months ago, I was totally cool with never having seen this musical. And that has me wondering what else I've been missing out on without even knowing it. What's a cool new-to-you thing you've found recently?

Post title is from "Wick," and is the first half of the bit I love most from the entire show: "Will it grow?" "It will." 

1 comment:

SpacerGuy said...

All my best for 2017, live long and prosper and Qapla!