Little Theatre has ‘Secret’ for you

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Greetings Natchez and the Miss-Lou!

Natchez Little Theatre’s final production of the 63rd Season is “The Secret Garden,” book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner, Marsha Norman, and music by Lucy Simon, older sister of Carly Simon. It is based on the beloved story by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

“The Secret Garden” premiered on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 25, 1991, and closed after 709 performances. It won the 1991 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical, Best Scenic Design and Best Featured Actress for Daisy Eagan who at 11 was the youngest actress to ever receive at Tony.

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Mary Lennox, a 10-year-old English girl who has lived in India since birth, dreams of English nursery rhymes and Hindi chants, awakes to learn that her parents and everyone she knew in India has died of cholera.

Mary, played by Taylor Spring, is sent back to England to live with her only remaining relatives, her dead aunt’s widower, Uncle Archibald, played by Jason Dauphin, and her cousin, Colin, portrayed by John Elliot Ward, who has been kept in bed since birth from fear that he may become a hunchback like his father.

Amidst the doom and gloom of haunted Misselthwaite in Yorkshire, Mary discovers a door that leads to a secret garden that belonged to Aunt Lily, played by Gwen Ball.

Mary tells Colin about the secret garden and with the help of young gardener Dickon, played by John Ashton Hicks, and chambermaid Martha, portrayed by Laurie Williams, take him there for fresh air and exercise to make him well.

The renewed garden comes to life as all those who call Misselthwaite home become changed.

The rest of this talented cast consists of veterans and newcomers alike: Trey Price, Jeannette Ware, Courtney Jones Hicks, Edwin Ward, Matt Fontenot, Chris Jackson, Arden McMillin, Esther Jeffus, Stephanie Whiteman, Don Vesterse, Anne White and Layne Taylor. Don Vesterse constructed the sets, with additional painting by Leon Hollins III.

Assisting me musically was Tamy Jackson as the rehearsal pianist, and Dr. Jerry Yonkman. Walt and Teri Roddy choreographed the beautiful waltz sequence that occurs in Act I.  Lynn Mann will run lights and the beautiful orchestration is by the M.T. Pit. “The Secret Garden” has one of the most romantic, beautiful and haunting scores.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday evenings, and “The Secret Garden” closes with at 2 p.m. matinee Sunday.

All tickets are $15 and should be reserved by calling NLT at 601-442-2233; toll free at 1-877-440-2233 or purchase online at

I look forward to seeing you at “The Secret Garden!”

Tommy Jackson is the director of NLT’s “The Secret Garden.”