Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

September 24, 2007

REVIEW: Story is visual and musical feast

There are many reasons to see “The Secret Garden,” which opened Thursday night at the Plaza Theatre. For starters, let’s talk about the visual and musical buffet this 1991, seven-time Tony Award-winning musical offers.

The show is set in two locales: Bombay, India, and North Yorkshire, England, at the turn of the 20th century. The period and native costumes from both India and England, especially for members of British society and their Indian servants (remember, India was a British colony at the time) are absolutely gorgeous. Indeed, the variations in costumes for each character are perfectly carried out.

For instance, while Archibald and Neville, two main characters and both British high society members (more about them later), wear their ascots and tails, the house servants, like Martha and Mrs. Medlock, are appropriately dressed in more modest, commoner’s clothing. The attention to costuming detail was superb and the rich; the visual display is captivating and enticing and drew many “oohs and ahhs” from the very large, admiring, opening-night audience. Many kudos to Tina Barrus, who directed costuming.

Then, there’s the music, which was delightful and engaging, complimenting the lush costuming with an equally rich feast for the ears. Together the costuming and music, which was just a tad too loud in places for my ears, engage the audience from the outset and never let them go. Not all the actors, unfortunately, have wireless microphones and the sound system is still a bit inadequate except in volume, but the small, intimate, theatre-in-the-round somewhat offsets this difficulty.

The acting, singing and dancing was perhaps the best the Plaza Theatre Company has set before the public since opening. They really nailed it on the whole. If this production were a gymnastics event, the score would be 9.5.

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