The Secret Garden | Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SALeft – Carolyn Ferrie, Mark Oates, Jack Raftopoulos and Laura Williams. Cover – Carolyn Ferrie and Jack Raftopoulos. Photos – Tim Allan

There is a rich abundance of amateur theatre in Adelaide, and there is an abundance of talent within it. This production is a fine example of both.

The Secret Garden is a classic story, and adapts well as a musical. The young Mary Lennox is uprooted from her luxurious life in India after the death of her parents and Ayah, to live in Yorkshire with her chronically mourning widowed uncle. She eventually transforms his life and that of his bed-ridden young son, whom Mary eventually discovers, closeted away from reality (and health) in his bed, by introducing her cousin to the locked, secret garden, and the open air. So there is a warm and fuzzy ending, which in this production, directed by Richard Trevaskis escapes the possibility of being cloying.

Trevaskis has amassed a fine cast, and nicely moulded them into an appropriately sweet production. Mark Oates (who can forget his Valjean in G&S’s recent Les Mis!) and Carolyn Ferrie (of many professional and amateur roles) both shine in the roles of Archibald and Lily Craven. Oates’ clear tenor blended beautifully with the rich baritone of Andrew Crispe (Dr Neville Craven) in a wonderful duet as they are both reminded of their mutual love for the departed Lily by Mary, who has “Lily’s eyes” – surely one of the highlights of this production.

Children who can act and sing can add a measure of charm to any performance. Laura Williams as Mary, and Jack Raftopoulos as Colin (sharing these roles with Nadia Barrow and Harry Fiedler respectively on alternate nights) provide very creditable performances, and a measure of cuteness.

Anne Doherty (Mrs Medlock) and Sarah Nagy (Martha) are both well cast, with commendable accents and clear diction in their songs. Ian Andrew as Dickon is another fine, clear and mellow voice, executing this appealing role with charm.

The balance and blend of orchestra and ensemble singing is well managed in the confident hands of Musical Director Daniel Brunner. Lighting, (Daniel Barber), sets (Lily Chester), costumes (Gigi D’angelo) and sound (Matthew Curtis) all effectively support the proper emphasis on the story, the acting and the music which are paramount.

The writers have taken a few reasonably effective liberties with the juxtaposition of the spirits of the departed from different times and places with the ruminations of the protagonists in the present, making for some initial confusion as to who they are and why they are there, but this eventually comes clear as they provide some fine chorus work.

All together this amounts to another creditable and professional standard production from the G&S Society – which should be no secret.

Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA presents

Book & Lyrics by Marsha Norman | Music by Lucy Simon | Based on the novel by Frances Hogson Burnett

Directed by Richard Trevaskis

Arts Theatre | Angas Street, Adelaide
Dates: 1 – 9 February, 2013
Tickets: $35 – $19

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