Jackie Cochran's rendition of Valley Performing Arts' play The Secret Garden is a touching, feel-good production that you don't want to miss.
Admittedly, this show isn't for the fast-paced, joke-a-minute crowd. The plot revolves around prepubescent girl bringing animation into the lives of her caregivers while developing her own humanity.
Actress Kasey Shaw gives a convincing performance as Mary Lennox, the spoiled and glowering orphan who goes to live with her recluse uncle, Master Craven. Shaw transforms from an unsympathetic terror into a lively and eventually likable young girl. The two child leads, Kasey Shaw and Luke Johnson (who plays Master Craven's bedridden and tempestuous son, Collin), play off each other admirably. The chemistry is especially apparent when the two argue; each parallels the other's child-llike debate skills. (Think 'is so' vs. 'is not', and whoever yells the loudest wins).
Alora Zulliger (playing Mary's maid, Martha) and Tyler Smith (playing Dickon, Martha's brother) shine as supporting characters. There's no question that Cochran cast the play well. Patricia Bloom plays the antagonist Mrs. Medlock, the house keeper. Bobbie Gannon and Kevin Cochran play Nurse Grey and Doctor Spencer. Gannon's pithy remarks and Cochran's bumbling antics provide the comic relief of the show.
The tech crew deserves mention as well. The scenery is provided by Mariana Zopel, who hand-painted multiple flats for the show. The dialogue mentions Misselthwaite Manor's 100 rooms, and the show utilizes more than one of them. The artwork is beautiful. It's simplicity adds a genuine feeling to the everchanging settings offered in The Secret Garden.
The show best fits under the 'cute' or 'feel good' genre. Anyone looking for a high-action thriller should check out the nearest theatre marque, but for fans of intimate productions, Valley Performing Art's Machetanz theatre is the place to be. The show is the closing production of Valley Performing Art's 34th season, so if you've yet to see a play from the season's lineup, this show is a great opportunity to support your local community theatre.
By Sofia Fouquet, a senior at Colony High School