Making a musical Garden grow

Secret Garden 1
A well-tended garden: The cast of TheatreWorks’ The Secret Garden at the Lucie Stern Theatre. Photo by Mark Kitaoka

The Secret Garden will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. And because I was there with friends who had friends in high places, we got to go backstage afterward. On my first day in New York, just after my first Broadway show, I got to stand center stage of the St. James Theatre and stare out into the empty theater. Amazing experience.

We got to go backstage, where I met Alison Fraser and, almost by accident, Rebecca Luker. Also go to see Mandy Patinkin pitch a fit because he didn’t want to meet people, dammit, between shows. That was interesting.

I’m thinking about The Secret Garden because I just saw TheatreWorks‘ second production of the show, this time at the intimate Lucie Stern Theatre. The Lucy Simon/Marsha Norman score is still absolutely gorgeous, and the story, based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett book, is still quite moving. I didn’t love everything about this Robert Kelley-directed production, but I loved seeing it again.

Read my review of The Secret Garden for the Palo Alto Weekly here.

Three years ago, when Lamplighters were producing The Secret Garden, I got to interview composer Lucy Simon. Read the interview here.

Answering the question about why she puts herself through the rigors of musical theater creation, she answered:

“I can’t but do it,” she says. “I have to write. I have to sing. I have to make something. Whether it is ever heard or not, well…, maybe The Secret Garden will be the one everyone will know, and people will ask, `Whatever happened to Lucy Simon?’ But that’s OK. Secret Garden has gone out into the world very nicely. It’s my love child and is precious to me. I feel it was a gift given to us that we now give back to the world.”

The Secret Garden, a TheatreWorks production, continues through Dec. 31 at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Tickets are $19-$72. Call 650-463-1960 or visit

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