When Mary Lennox — a young English girl born and raised during the British Raj in India — is orphaned and sent to the moors of Yorkshire, England, to be entrusted to the care of a grief-stricken uncle, she discovers a sickly cousin and a young gardener living on the estate — and, most importantly, a neglected garden.
As Mary finds finds solace in rejuvenating the overgrown plot, her actions herald healing and renewal for the entire family. Along her journey, mysterious ghosts, new friendships and the possibility of putting down real roots and beginning again are revealed.
Based on the 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the musical "The Secret Garden" premiered on Broadway in 1991 and ran for more than 700 performances. Daisy Egan, an 11-year-old actress, won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, and scriptwriter and lyricist Marsha Norman (" 'Night, Mother") won a Tony for Best Book of a Musical. Music is by composer Lucy Simon, sister of pianist Carly Simon.
Oregon Center for the Arts' production of "The Secret Garden" will be presented at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 12-14, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15, in the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 405 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.
Tickets for reserved seating are $21, $18 for seniors and $6 for students. Tickets can be purchased online at oca.sou.edu/box-office, by calling 541-552-6348 or at the Music Recital Hall box office. Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and two hours prior to each performance.
Liisa Ivary directs the SOU production of "The Secret Garden."
"These students — from the SOU theater and music programs — are killing it," Ivary says. "It's an interesting collaboration. Quite often the programs function separately, even though they are under the same umbrella of performing arts at SOU. This is a full collaboration using the theater tech crew along with theater and music majors.
"We're sort of like the circus because the tech crew are setting up and breaking down sound, lighting and set everyday," Ivary says. "They have to load in and out because of other shows set for the Music Recital Hall. But it's all beautifully streamlined. It's simple, but packs a punch."
The SOU production is staged in the Music Recital Hall because of construction and expansion of the Theatre Arts Building.
"Simon's music for the story is influenced by Indian, Celtic, traditional English and Irish folk," Ivary says. "It's a blend of music that illustrates how to recover from feeling abandoned, finding a home and finding roots. That's the metaphor."
Choreography is by Suzanne Sieber and Andrea Luchese, and music direction is by Chris Williams.