Earlier than a single performer seems on stage, I am already invested in PCPA’s spellbinding, and probably foreboding, set design for The Secret Backyard.
My mind is brewing with anticipation over scenic designer Jason Bolen’s The Shining-esque maze imagery—what might this imply? Is The Secret Backyard even darker than I keep in mind? (I watched the 1993 movie years in the past, however by no means learn the e book).
Whether or not that set alternative was a Stephen King nod or not, there’s undoubtedly one thing ghostly happening throughout the present’s opening. When 10-year-old Mary Lennox (London Raftery) finds out her mother and father have handed away, her mom (Emily Trask) and father (Yusef Seevers) stay onstage as onlookers, amongst different figures within the background, who I assume are additionally spirits.
These limbo-dwellers inhabit the stage for nearly each scene that follows, evidently solely to watch their earthly counterparts’ actions with out interfering. After her mother and father’ deaths, Mary is shipped to dwell along with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Eduardo Enrikez), in Yorkshire, England—removed from her upbringing in British colonial India. Archibald’s deceased spouse, Lily (Jennie Greenberry), additionally ceaselessly seems as an onlooking spirit.
Regardless of heat welcomes from staff on the property who Mary befriends, together with Martha (Christen Celaya) and Dickon (Tyrone Jones), the younger orphan feels alienated from her socially withdrawn uncle, whose peculiar residence appears shrouded in thriller.
The ominous wailing heard above Mary’s new bed room ceiling would not do her any favors both. It’d sound like a ghost, however it seems to be a closeted skeleton, so to talk. Mary discovers the cries are coming from a cousin she by no means knew she had, 10-year-old Colin Craven (Dorian Inexperienced). Seemingly unwell and unable to stroll, Colin has been stored bedridden for many of his life, afraid of journeying into the surface world, with occasional exceptions. These exceptions turn out to be far more frequent as soon as Mary develops a friendship with Colin, resulting in the duo’s adventurous outings within the present’s titular backyard.
Each Raftery and Inexperienced give stellar performances worthy of the standing ovation they acquired the night time I attended. The whole solid—rounded out with supporting roles from Andrew Philpot, Kitty Balay, Erik Stein, and different endearing PCPA staples—offers this present their all, particularly throughout musical numbers like “Come Spirit, Come Appeal” and “Come to My Backyard.”
The “Spring” model of The Secret Backyard, PCPA’s abridged iteration of the musical, leads to a 90-minute two-act present, however one carried out with out an intermission.
“The compression of the story places into excessive distinction the gorgeous and sweeping rating and the straightforward, heartfelt journey of Mary Lennox,” director Roger DeLaurier defined within the present’s program.
DeLaurier stated one of many issues he admires most concerning the present’s script is that it would not downplay the unique story’s somberness. Neither does it overstate its optimism, all whereas staying household pleasant and true to its supply materials.
“Popping out of this difficult 12 months and a half, I like that this uplifting and romantic musical based mostly on a kids’s traditional novel has some darker undertones in character, plot line, and music, and but is finally redemptive; a tribute to the therapeutic energy of nature and love, of rejuvenation and resilience,” DeLaurier wrote. Δ
Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood feels rejuvenated. Ship feedback to [email protected]