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What's the appeal? 
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Broadway Legend
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Location: Eastern U.S.
Post What's the appeal?
As you can probably see, I've posted a fair bit in the Secret Garden forum, mostly offering opinions based on the production I saw. But despite that, Secret Garden is the one show that I truly dislike. I think it has to do with the bordering on non-existent humor. I'm a fan of subtle humor (ex. the kind of humor in THE KING AND I), but to my recollection, neither I nor anyone else in the audience laughed once during the whole show. Also, I'm a bit of a feminist and because the source material is over a hundred years old, naturally the gender roles aren't as defined as what we're used to today. So, what I hope to accomplish with this thread is for someone to explain the appeal of the show, as well as broaden my horizons about my admittedly jaded opinions.

Brian aka Apples2for10

"...Apples is probably the one who's posted the most relevant musical stuff long term in the past few months."- UniquePerspective

Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:03 pm
Young Hoofer
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Post Re: What's the appeal?
Granted, I might be a bit biased as this is one of my favorite musicals and was the first I got to perform in (I played Dickon)...

I think the gender roles are kind of an insurmountable obstacle. The show is pretty much steeped in the Victorian period, and there's not much you can do about the way gender roles were constructed back then. Although, Mary Lennox does stand up quite admirably to Dr. Craven, and is rather forward in her dealings with both Archie and Colin, which shows a self-sufficiency and spunk that would have been rather daring for a girl of her time.

As far as humor, there are plenty of humorous moments to be found in the show, and if they are missed it's the fault of the individual production. It's a pretty serious show to begin with, so you can't reasonably expect a lot of laugh-out-loud moments like you'd get in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels . But there are definitely funny moments between Mary and Colin, and both Dickon and Martha provide a fair bit of humor in their interactions with Mary.

There's a VERY amusing bit between Dickon and Martha right before "Come Spirit, Come Charm":

MARTHA: But if it's so dark, I can't even see where I'm goin', how'm I to hope to see what it is once I get there?
DICKON: I canna say. P'rhaps it's only summat you're meant to hear.
MARTHA: But all I can hear is me own self talkin'.
DICKON: Then p''d best be still.

And maybe it's just me but Mary's tantrum had me in stitches every night:

MARY: I hate you! You're a horrible ugly pig! I hope you get hit by a lorry on your way home and your ugly head rolls off into a ditch and gets eaten by maggots! And if I'm sent off with you I'm going to bite your arm and you're going to die! (MARY launches into a stream of curses in Hindi and then faints dead away on the floor).

As far as what else appeals to me about the show - it's largely the music. The score is stunning. I think it's some of the best vocal music Broadway's produced in the last thirty years. Definitely a singer's show. Provided the cast is up to the challenge of the score, the show can't help but sound incredible. Great ensemble numbers like "House on the Hill" and "The Quartet," and lovely solos/duets like "Hold On," "Lily's Eyes" and "How Could I Ever Know"...the music still gives me chills to this day.

The book is a great adaptation of the story, too. The new emphasis on the history between the adult characters, although jarring to fans of the original book, makes for really compelling theatre.

The show is a lot of fun to design, too. It's a great challenge to come up with a set to capture both the interior of the house and the garden outside, and if Victorian is your period it's a costumer's dream too.

All in all, I find it to be an exciting, beautiful piece of musical theater that is both a challenge and a joy to produce.

Past musical roles:
Dickon, The Secret Garden
Josh Baskin, Big: The Musical
Freddy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Franz/Dennis, Sunday in the Park with George
Frederic, The Pirates of Penzance
Historian/others, Spamalot

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Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:52 pm
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
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Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:10 pm
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Location: Mid East Coast. Figure it out.
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Post Re: What's the appeal?
The music, most definitely ... it's so different, and really memorable.

Currently: No theatre, busy with music education.
RIP Robin :(

Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:20 pm
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