Julian Packer, Lyra Sales and Hope Myre in the ECHO Players’ 2020 production of ‘The Secret Garden’. (Courtesy of Jennifer Kelly)

Julian Packer, Lyra Sales and Hope Myre in the ECHO Players’ 2020 production of ‘The Secret Garden’. (Courtesy of Jennifer Kelly)

‘The Secret Garden’ opens in Qualicum Beach

First ECHO Players production of the year

The ECHO Players’ The Secret Garden opens tonight (Thursday, Feb. 13) at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach.

The play is a musical adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett book of the same name, but with a stronger focus on the world of the adults.

Set in 1906, the play tells the story of how grief can blossom into hope even in the darkest circumstances.

It focuses around the story of young Mary Lennox whose parents die in a cholera outbreak in India. She then moves to her uncle Archibald Craven’s Yorkshire manor. Craven has been isolating himself in grief after the death of his wife.

As Mary explores the house, she finds secrets along the way that become the key to healing both her grief and the Craven family’s.

“The story is about both of them getting through their pain and coming to the other side – the door being the other side. The garden is that symbolic metaphor for healing. Just as you tend to a garden, things that look dead aren’t really dead if you take the time to take care of them,” said director Jennifer Kelly.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach’s ECHO Players reflect on a successful season

Mary Lennox is played by talented 13-year-old Hope Myre.

Myre grew up in theatre and has performed in numerous productions, and it shows – she’s by far one of the highlights of the show.

“I think this one is really inspiring. I’m having lots of fun, I’m really enjoying working with everybody,” said Myre.

“I really feel like it’s an uplifting show. … You feel like you can leave with hope, and knowing that life’s going to be better.”

Archibald Craven is played by Nanaimo theatre scene veteran Dean Chadwick, who runs theatre company Schmooze Productions and in 2019 won the city of Nanaimo’s ‘Honour in Culture’ award.

The show’s run time with intermission is approximately two-and-a half hours.

It does feature use of a fog machine, so those who aren’t comfortable with sitting in the machine’s smoke should choose to sit several rows back from the front.

The set creates an interesting visual dynamic, creating multiple levels on the stage that allow for strong choreography.

Honourable mentions to Ben Rosnau as Dickon and Jocelyn Dickson as Martha, both providing some needed comic relief to the script.

Lyra Sales as Colin Craven brings a bright feistiness to the character, and Ian Morton also plays a convincing villain as Dr. Neville Craven.