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Come to my garden...


Mary Lennox in search of the garden

Tonight we open Gulfshore Playhouse's "The Secret Garden," the culminating project for this Summer's Teen Conservatory in Naples, Florida. The extent of my knowledge of the show was contained to a couple melodramatic tunes from a cassette tape in my mother's Volvo station wagon console. I can only ascertain that the Broeckers hosted the national tour after it closed on Broadway in the early 90s and that Mother was first in line at intermission for the original broadway recording.


Fast forward 30 years and I have the opportunity to delve deeper into this story's purpose. Lo and Behold...the show is about recent loss and how we honor those who have passed by (in the words of Dolly Levi: "rejoining the human race") or simply being amongst the living. GO FIGURE!? The character Archibald (played by Mandi Patinkin in the original Broadway cast) so aptly notes quite early in the story, "They're only a ghost if someone alive is still holding onto them."


As Mary discovers and enlivens the seemingly "dead" garden with the help of Dickon, her Uncle Archibald is beckoned by the ghost of Lily. "Archie" sees Lily in Mary's eyes and is renewed with life among the young foliage, a renaissance.


It would be easy to assume that the depth of this story goes WAY over the heads of these young actors. Unexpectedly, I shared a moment with the actor who plays Dr. Craven. His mother had recently passed last Fall and he shared with me truly amazing thoughts on how he deals with this loss. I can't imagine losing a mother especially during those formative years as a teenager. In summary, he shared that his mother wasn't gone; rather, she lived on in his memories and appeared during moments of true serendipity.


It has been a joy sharing this production with these young actors. August is here and school looms. I am looking forward to getting back to my studio--my own garden that breeds musical life for my students and for me.

Spring Piano Recital at #musicbox1532

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© 2020 by John Austin Clark