APU Drama Presents The Secret Garden

by Danielle Vanaman '06

Where can you find stirring emotion, artistic expression, and an outstanding orchestra together in one place? Look no further than APU Drama's production of The Secret Garden. The play kicked off APU's 2003 drama season on September 11 with a timely message about the healing power of love. The Secret Garden is the first of seven plays in a series titled "The Year of the Underdog," which will feature the stories of several unlikely heroes.

In the opening scenes, the orphaned Mary Lennox is sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, in a dreary mansion haunted by secrets. At first, Archibald, who has lived in mourning since his beloved wife's death ten years earlier, treats Mary with indifference. However, Mary's feisty spirit quickly begins to bloom through her exploration of the estate's gardens, and she stubbornly refuses to be ignored. As their complex relationship unfolds, the girl and her uncle gradually find healing when they learn to look beyond their own grief. Assistant director Brian Mercer hopes that audiences will come away with the realization "that if we continually allow ourselves to be haunted by our past, we run the risk of crippling our future."

The Secret Garden is directed by Bart McHenry, assistant professor of communication studies at APU, and has been adapted from Marsha Norman's renowned novel by the same name. Though the plot is familiar to most, the play's artistic and musical interpretation are refreshing. The result is a powerful dramatic musical, brought to life by the combined talents of APU’s music and drama programs. According to Mercer, the play came together after just two weeks of intense rehersals, and the cast's "resilience and patience during a very difficult process was extraordinary. That they were able to put up a show of this magnitude on the second week of the semester and have opening night be so excellent speaks volumes about their commitment and professionalism."

The Secret Garden is being presented at APU's Black Box Theatre, located in the Mary Hill Center on West Campus. Performances take place September 18-20 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on September 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the InCom Center, by calling (626) 812-3032, or at the door. For more about this year's performances, visit APU Drama.