Spring has Sprung at The 5th Avenue – The Secret Garden is a lovely show! Go!

Spring has finally sprung in Seattle at the 5th Avenue Theater with the reimagined 1991 Tony award-winning The Secret Garden. Despite the weather outside tis that season – so go! (And, get your garden on – take a sneak peek!) The cast is thoroughly top notch, the direction mesmerizing, the set-design beautiful and intricate, the book well-written and the music so melodically appealing. Children and adults alike will much enjoy this musical – running through May 6th. Tickets. The 5th Avenue kicks-off spring and continues its wonderful current season with this offering!

25 years after this show first appeared on Broadway and won Tony awards, Marsha Norman (Tony for best book; and, lyrics) and Lucy Simon (music, and who was in attendance) now revisit their production with the 5th Avenue Theater in association with Shakespeare Theater Company. Daisy Egan, the youngest female to win a Tony, at eleven, for best featured actress lead, as the young, orphaned girl Mary Lennox, returned in 2016 to do the role of Martha for Shakespeare Theater Company and does it again in this production – joyfully and well.

Kudos to David Armstrong for his able direction, so much Broadway production value in so many professional and stunning touches! He melds a very competent cast into a beautifully cohesive and charmed show – theatrically and technically well done! Anna Louizos’ sets are truly a wonder.

The young, local Bea Corley (now in the role of Mary Lennox), I can only imagine, stands toe to toe with Egan’s Tony winning performance! Her rich, mature speaking voice, perfect accent (delivery/timing), wonderful movement and strong singing amaze and delight the entire night. The other child actor, another local, Guthrie Greenwood Bettinger who played Colin Craven, in the opening show we saw, is also a talented kid who goes toe to toe to Corley. (This role will be shared with Coleman Hunter during the run.)

The male leads Tam Mutu as Archibald Craven and Josh Young as Dr. Neville Craven are both excellent singers/actors and their duet “Lily’s Eyes” is a show stopper. Charlie Franklin is a charmer as the spritely Dickon. The cast’s chorale work is outstanding

Bea Corley (as Mary Lennox) and Charlie Franklin (as Dickon) in The 5th Avenue’s new production of the Secret Garden. Both wonderful in their roles. Photo Tracy Martin.

The Secret Garden is adapted from the serialized story, later published as a book, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A prolific late 19th century writer who published her first work at 18, became famous and infamous when her novel Little Lord Fauntleroy jettisoned her into wealth and the public eye. The Secret Garden is a book about many themes including her love of gardens, relationships and renewal belief in natural healing and against medical intervention. It has been adapted for film as well as for stage. I also recommend the book for your spring reading!

Murder for Two to take your mind off your troubles!

If the weather and the news have you down these days…take the night off and spend it with local actor Richard Gray and Chris DiStefano starring in Murder for Two – A New Musical Comedy! They do a two-man show that is a wonderful acting feat and piano extravaganza in the annual joint production of The ACT and 5th Avenue Theaters, running now thru June 11th, at Act, in the Falls Theater.

In 90 minutes, with no intermission, you will be amazed by their work and talent; and, the complexity of the acting and piano playing. Such fun! The set by Carey Wong is also clever. The book, music and lyrics are not that memorable (Kellen Blair, Carnation Washington and Seattle theater lover since a kid; and, Joe Kinosian done first as an Off-Broadway show). But, this is still a great night at the theater with laughs and without any heavy messaging or political overtones. And, for that we can heartily thank them! Their book allows Gray to perform his acting wizardry and with a very few props he fills the stage with personality (or, should I say personalities!).

You will be in the moment as these two tickle the keys, exude great energy and humor while playing 11 characters (some send-up stereotypes) in a “whodunit” doing some tricky steps, just plain great piano playing and good singing. Daniel Knechtges able direction and choreography are smooth and aid in making this all look effortless…which it is not – for sure! You will get breathless watching. We attended with an octogenarian and a twenty-something and all of us thought it a great short foray away! Sneak peek.

Stay tuned for the curtain call (don’t leave your seats early)! And, the audience participation is a laugh-riot as long as you are not the one chosen to join them on stage, but even then…And, silence those cell phones for goodness sake! Tickets, parking and info.