No secret here, RSC theatre hits a high note

Jennifer Byrd




The Student Theatre’s latest production, “The Secret Garden,” is yet another brilliantly acted and well choreographed musical to add to the long list of successful performances by RSC. Twelve-year-old Cassie Schafer plays Mary, a recently orphaned resident of British India who is sent to live with her hunchbacked uncle in England at the turn of the 20th century.

Mary must look past her grave surroundings and unlock not just the secret garden, but the mysteries and miseries of the old Misselwaite Manor as well. Schafer has the voice of an angel, even in her young age. Her stage presence is powerful and her character’s emotional roller coaster ride is thoroughly believable.

Jeffery Ambrosini, a tenor who not once faltered in voice or character, plays Uncle Archibald. He is a sad and lonely man since the death of his wife, Lily, who past away during the birth of their child, Colin, played by Benjamin Rosfeld. Mary’s request for a “piece of earth” sends Archibald into a dark tailspin of grief, because she reminds him so much of his deceased wife.

Rachel Barnard plays Lily in ghost form. Barnard has the most songs in the musical, and her soprano voice has the power to soothe even the most worrisome of problems. In one scene, her ghost sings to her child Colin, who is bedridden in the manor and convinced he is ill. The moment is utterly captivating.

Other excellent performances include Megan Purdue as Martha, a comforting confidant to both Colin and Mary; Sarah Hinrichson as Lily’s shallow sister; and Reed Bentley as a humorous Dickon, Mary and Colin’s friend who helps them bring the garden back to life.

Lindsey Rollins as Mrs. Medlock and Mateja Govich as Archibald’s brother round out the main characters, but it was the young actors who stole this show.

Schafer and Rosfeld displayed poise well beyond their years. Both have previous acting experience and both should have many more roles in their futures. Rosfeld’s voice perfectly harmonized with Schafer, and the pair are adorable, even when arguing.

The detailed sets, seamless transitions, and live orchestra are icing on the cake for this classic children’s book, turned musical.

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