The Secret Garden - 26 May 2001

I had to make one final visit to the garden and it is criminal that this show will soon be gone. The cast gave over 100% and the whole performance had such energy. The initial disappointment for me was that Philip Quast was not on, he was the reason I had made this last emergency visit and he is such a fantastic performer but if you're ill you're ill. But Alastair Robbins was excellent as Archie, he is physically and vocally different and plays the character differently, I am glad he doesn't do a carbon copy of how Philip plays he role because this would not have worked. Alastair has a lovely clear tenor voice and his speaking voice is a lot lighter. Whilst he has created a very good character of Archie it doesn't quite have the depth of character and darkness of emotions that Philip brings to the role. He has great facial expression and whenever you see him you know what he is feeling inside by the expression on his face. The final scene (How could I ever know) is a truly moving scene and the moment Lily touches Archie and brings his soul back to life is one of the best moments in the show. The joy of both Lily and Archie as they are given one final moment together is wonderful and it surely cannot fail to move anyone. With Alastair playing Archie one aspect of the story is changed in that he is obviously younger than Neville and maybe the fact he inherited the house is another reason for Neville to be so bitter at times.

Meredith was beautiful and enchanting as ever. She has such lovely expressions, as Mary helps Colin in the wheelchair Lily is there anxious that he will be OK and as she kneels in front of Colin it is a joy for her that he can see her as well.

Again Linzi and Craig were excellent and brimming with life and vivacity as Martha and Dickon and there strong support from Peter Polycarpou, Amanda Hall(Mrs Medlock) and Freddie Davies. The children were played by Cassandra Compton and Zach Morris and both were excellent, with lovely singing voices and good characterisation.

For me it is a sad goodbye to The Secret Garden and one of the best casts I will ever see assembled for this wonderful show but I hope that this musical will grow elsewhere and be 'Wick' for many years yet.

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