A dreamy landscape sets the stage for the opening scene, where lace and accents transport us back to early 20th-
So begins the Durango Performance Arts Company's production of The Secret Garden," a musical version of the classic
children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The show opens tonight at the
Durango Arts Center and will continue over the next three weekends.
Rehearsals have been a constant since January, occurring four times a week for a couple hours after school. And they
have been well worth the effort.
Emma Buchanan shines as the lead, doing a wonderful job portraying a lonely and curious Mary Lennox. She is backed by
her spirited servant Martha, played by Amy Walker, who adds a genuine Yorkshire flair. Other stand-out performances are
given by Adel Vaughn, who plays Aunt Lily and appears as a ghost with a beautiful soprano voice. Archibald, played by
Landon Newton, is a compelling hunchbacked uncle.
I'm really amazed by the talented musicians on what is a musically challenging piece,"
director Traci Lyn Thomas said.
Burnett's working title for the novel was Mistress Mary," in reference to the English nursery rhyme Mary, Mary, Quite
Contrary." The musical is right on time for the debut of spring with a beautiful English garden in full bloom ending
the play and inspiring the start of our gardening season.
This play is quite different than performances done in the past. Although it is a children's story with universal
themes of friendship and perseverance, it is meant for all. Last year Thomas directed a junior version of Into the
Woods," but this production
of Secret Garden" was more ambitiously adapted after the unclipped Broadway version. Auditions were held in December
and were attended en masse.
It was one of the better turnouts," Thomas said, referring to the 65 kids that auditioned for only 34 roles cast.
The kids were required to sing 32 bars of any song that suited their voice and present a riddle that had a sense of
mystery. The audition criteria change for each DPAC performance but each component reveals personality.
Proceeds from ticket sales help offset the cost of materials and elaborate costumes needed to keep the audience firmly
convinced it's in Victorian England throughout. Ticket sales also cover scholarships and summer camps as well as staff
The run time of the play is two hours with an intermission.
Karin L. Becker teaches composition at Fort Lewis College. Reach her at becker_K@ fortlewis.edu.