The Secret Garden

An original adaptation by

Family Playhouse

Based on the novel by

Francis Hodgson Burnett

Original music by

Dean Anderson and Norman Thomas Miller

Where tha’ tend a rose, a thistle canna’ grow
And over the walls and earth and trees and swinging sprays, the fair green veil of tender little leaves had crept and grown. And in the grass under the trees and here and there were splashes of gold and purple and white and fluttering of wings and faint scents... And the sun fell warm upon his face like a hand with a lovely touch. And in wonder, Mary and Dickon stood and stared at him. He looked so strange and different because a pink glow of color had crept all over him – ivory face and neck and all.

‘I shall get well! I shall get well!’ he cried out. ‘Mary! Dickon! I shall get well! And I shall live forever and ever and ever!’


Mary Lennox, a young English girl, awakens one morning in Colonial India in 1906, to find her parents and all the house servants dead from a cholera epidemic. She is sent back to the Yorkshire moors of England to live with a cold, grieving and self-preoccupied uncle. In her aloneness she discovers a secret garden which the uncle has kept locked up for years. After making the garden come alive, Mary becomes convinced that Colin, the crippled son of her uncle, can walk if he, too, shares the Magic of the secret garden.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is my favorite children’s classic. It has all the ingredients that a great story should have: an intriguing plot line, powerful conflict, memorable and distinctive characters, enthralling atmosphere and setting, but, above all, dialogue that penetrates the depths of the heart. In my dramatic adaptation of the novel, I have stayed faithful to both the author’s intent and the authentic dialogue/dialect of her characters. To accommodate a larger cast of younger children, I created an enchanted garden sequence where the garden comes alive with fairies and gnomes who perform the many tasks of "wakenin’ up a garden." I also expanded the love story of Colin’s dead mother, Lily, and his father, Archibald. This was intended to add a richness and pathos to our understanding of Archie’s long grieving and withdrawal from his crippled son.

In many of the recent made-for-television screenplays of this novel, there has been a watering down, even total denial of what the "magic" of the secret garden really is. In fact, Mrs. Burnett defines it clearly in the novel as the presence of God within that makes the heart come alive or as Dickon calls it, "wick". When Mary discovers this "magic", she is totally convinced that Colin can walk if he, too, discovers the same magic within himself. I have preserved this understanding in the script and it is the component that gives the play it’s appeal of beauty and wonder.

The musical score is haunting and beautiful. I have known and worked professionally with Dean Anderson and Tom Miller for over 20 years. Their ability to translate musically the essence of a script is still beyond my best description. The keynote – "Lily’s Melody" – is deeply moving. The "Enchanted Garden Theme" captivates the imagination in a wonderland of fairy charms and joys. The marriage of the music and the drama is a perfect one. The play should not be performed without it. The sound effects, too, especially the storm and "wind wuthering on the moor" are intrinsic to the successful creation of mood and emotional texture.

I share this play with great joy and love. It's Magic is transforming!

"You have brought us a special experience. Your combination of children and theater is nothing less than magical! Thank you for showing the courage and initiative to share your talents with us."

-Carl Gutierrez, Governor of Guam

"Congratulations on your magnificent staging of The Secret Garden. All of my staff enjoyed the show immensely. Your young cast members were simply great!"

- Tony Nicholson, General Manager, Shell Inc, Pacific Guam

"Mrs. McClellan has an uncanny ability to coax genuine emotion from the children. And the children have the depth and intuition to project that emotion to an audience."

- Royal Teton News

"Beautiful and moving. I sat riveted to my chair and couldn’t hold back the tears."

- Patricia Cashman, Grandmother

"Thank you for making my children’s first theatrical play a blessed experience."

- Sandy Roth, Mother

"A captivating performance. The Secret Garden is MAGIC! The professionalism of the cast is evident."

- Pacific Daily News, Guam

"Some of the emotional things the children did, it takes adult actors years to master."

- Robert Worobec, Broadway actor and recording artist

"I had no desire to see the show but a friend urged me on. This is what I experienced: the performers and the performance of The Secret Garden took me to an intimate place of my heart where beauty lives and grows, a place untouched by fear and stress and doubt, a place where True Love is real. Thank you for giving our children the opportunity to discover and express their creative genius. You have a talent from heaven. It is transforming."

- Rose Gadigian, Special Ed. Counsellor

"A grand production and the children were angels. The quality of talent was simply amazing."

-Evelyn Estano, General Manager, Northwest Airlines, Pacific Guam

"I must thank you and all the wonderful cast of The Secret Garden for a splendid performance! It was beyond excellent in my mind - I was so caught up in the total wonder and beauty of it all. You had such a charm and presence that made the performance magical for me - my heart felt like it was on wings. It was truly magnificent - a musical/acting bonanza."

- Gail O'dier, Audience Member

"In the tradition of all Mrs. McClellan's plays, this show was, like the lady herself, a class act!"

- David Elwin, General Manager, Bettaform Ltd.

"The production of The Secret Garden was excellent. Thank you for making it possible for our children with autism and other special needs to attend the show. My heartfelt congratulations for the wonderful performance."

- Ms. Jelly Flores, Autism Society

"The show was wonderful - the quality of the acting and the way the story took the audience by the hand to that secret garden of the heart. And there was something more - an overshadowing presence of love."

- Elizabeth Sage, High School Teacher

"The children were shining stars – even the little ones. The gnomes in your 'enchanted garden' scene were fun loving imps and the Fairy Queen and her Fairy Babies were simply gorgeous."

-Matt and Lori Ausmus, Lt Cdr, USN

"A magical performance. Every character was full of life. We were laughing and crying all the way through."

- Dion and Suzie Johnson, Airline Pilot

Sample The Secret Garden Music!
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