Day 45: A Transcendent Production of “The Secret Garden”

This is a two-parter pertaining to musicals 🙂

Part #1: A Transcendent Production of “The Secret Garden”

For many years now, my wife has shot pictures for “Music Circus,” an annual Summer tradition here in Sacramento where six complete musicals are professionally staged over several months. Due to the Pandemic, Music Circus hadn’t happened since 2019. My wife has loved returning to take pictures after the three year break.

For me it’s been great fun to be able to see the productions again. Last weekend I took my mom to see “The Secret Garden,” a childhood favorite. To say I loved seeing it is an understatement. I was enthralled by a stellar cast who did justice singing one of Broadway’s truly transcendent musical scores.

As a child, we had various musicals on in rotation in our household, especially: “Les Miserables,” “Into the Woods,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Evita,” and “The Secret Garden.”

Of these, “The Secret Garden” stood out for its musical beauty and emotional depth. I have many fond childhood memories of listening to it. To me, its music still defines the beauty what is possible in a musical.

I was re-inspired hearing it last weekend. As a fan since childhood of the original Broadway recording, I could not imagine a production honoring it so well. There is also something absolutely divine about the compositions, which Music Circus’s fabulous professional singers performed beautifully.

As a composer, “The Secret Garden” sets a worthy bar for musical beauty and expression.

Part #2: A Childhood History of Musicals

I was weaned on musicals. My parents were both highly enthusiastic about the performing arts and encouraged us to sing, act, and generally be creative. Naturally, my siblings and I ended up at a school which did a musical every year. Here is my grade school musical theater resume:

  • First Grade: “The Wizard of OZ,” in which as a seven-year-old winged monkey I jumped off stage in the middle of “Ding dong! The witch is dead!” because I got a bloody nose.
  • Second Grade:“Oliver,” in which I fell in love with the song “Where is Love?”
  • Third Grade:“The Music Man,” in which I played J.C. Squires, a member of the lousy barbershop quartet, while my brother got the much-preferred part of Winthrop!
  • Fourth Grade: “Give My Regards to Broadway,” in which I played a guy fighting in the war and I made a machine gun sound with my mouth, and then made myself wrong for doing something “so unprofessional!”
  • Fifth Grade:“Oklahoma,” in which I had “the role of a lifetime” as Curly, the male lead, and triumphed!
  • Sixth Grade:“Pirates of Penzance Jr.” which I tried to save from being a lame kids adaptation by adding lines from the original Modern Major General part.
  • Seventh Grade:“The King and I,” in which I played the prince’s son and that’s about all I remember about it.
  • Eighth Grade:“Bye Bye Birdie,” in which I played Albert, the hapless manager of Conrad Birdie, and enjoyed playing piano on stage while I “composed” the newest hit “One Last Kiss.”

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