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Theatre / The Secret Garden

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The Secret Garden is a musical with words by Marsha Norman and music by Lucy Simon, based on the novel The Secret Garden. It debuted on Broadway in 1991, with Daisy Eagan as Mary Lennox and Mandy Patinkin as Archibald Craven.

This version placed more emphasis on the adults, with much of the plot being narrated by a ghostly chorus of "Dreamers". It also expands the plot considerably, up to adding in a primary conflict in the form of Archibald Craven's brother Dr. Neville Craven, who was in a love triangle with his own brother and Lillias, and is charged with both keeping Colin healthy and keeping the estate in order while Archibald is away.

This musical contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Lily's much-sung-about eyes (see below) were hazel instead of the agate gray they were in the book.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Lillias Craven's name is shortened to Lily.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Mary's parents are shown to have been much kinder and loving to Mary in life, and just as much so in death than they ever were in the Book. However, her mother still has a selfish personality and is seen in flashback failing to relate to her daughter.
  • Age Lift: Dickon moves from being of an age with Mary and Colin to being a young adult. This is much easier for a production than having to manage three child stars, but it also limits Dickon's character as it would be inappropriate for him to be as close to Mary as the original character. He comes across more as a mischievous druid.
  • Counterpoint Duet: "Lily's Eyes" is a duet between Archibald and Neville, the two men who loved Lily.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: This is the subject of the song "Lily's Eyes," as Archibald and Neville observe that Mary has them.
  • Final Love Duet: "How Could I Ever Know", in which the ghost of The Lost Lenore duets with her husband.
  • Floral Theme Naming: In the musical, Mary's mother and Colin's mother are sisters and are named Rose and Lily.
  • Ghost Song:
    • Almost all of Lily's material, especially "Come To My Garden", and a half-ghost duet "How Could I Ever Know".
    • The Greek Chorus ensemble is comprised of the ghosts of people Mary knew in India, including her parents.
  • Greek Chorus: The Dreamers, a chorus of ghosts who haunt the house.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary" is sung by the ghosts several times in the musical.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In the "Quartet," Rose asserts valid cautions about Lily's plan to marry Archie which end up coming true, albeit in ways she could not have foreseen - but her unpleasant personality and the show's firm Archie/Lily ship make it easy to ignore that she's right, and she comes off as the antagonist of the scene.
  • The Lost Lenore: Lillias is this to both her husband Archibald and his brother Neville.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: An interesting twist on this trope can be found in the "Quartet" at the beginning of Act II, which juxtaposes Archie and Neville's feelings about Archie's current loneliness after Lily's death with a flashback to Rose voicing to Lily her objections over Lily's impending marriage to Archie.
  • Remake Cameo: In the 2016 revival, Martha is played by Daisy Eagan, who was Mary in the original 1991 production.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: It is revealed at one point that Lilias Craven's family, especially her sister, were dead set against her marrying Archibald because he was a hunchback. Her sister threatened to disown her, but she married him anyway because she loved him so much. Then she died. Archibald is still in a mess over her death when Mary arrives ten years later.
  • The Watson: Mary takes on this role temporarily when Mrs. Medlock introduces her to her new home, conveniently telling Mary all the backstory of the home and the family for the audience to hear.