|Alex Keiper & Bailey Ryon|
The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia, is presenting The Secret Garden on its F. Otto Haas Stage through June 26. This deliciously delightful production can be enjoyed on many levels, literally. There is the marvelous acting, the beautiful music and the clever use of stage props. Attention must also be drawn to the action on the stage, above the stage, and actually below the stage. This is a multi-level event and it is difficult to decide where to appropriate most of your attention. Jorge Cousineau, set and video designer, co-conceived this intriguing production with artistic director Terrence J. Nolan. The end-result is captivating. Scenes have been designed in miniature and placed in chronological order on a turntable beneath the stage. A videographer shoots the scenes “in real time” during the performance and they are projected onto the stage, appearing as different views outside of a house window. It is not only fascinating to watch the views change on stage, but if you are fortunate enough to have a seat near where the videography is taking place, you have a mesmerizing show to watch beneath the stage. Onstage, the results are equally remarkable. The staging is superb as actors move up and down staircases or move in and out of the wings to sing their solos or duets. Bailey Ryon is marvelous in her role of Mary Lennox, but then everyone else is outstanding in their role as well. When Jeffrey Coons (Archibald Cravens) sings, whether it is a solo, a duet, a quartet or with the company, magic happens. Elisa Mathews has some beautiful solos and duets, as Lily Craven. Martha, played by Alex Keiper, is a meek character in the beginning but can certainly belt out a song in the second act when she encourages Lilly to “Hold On.” Everything about this performance works as smoothly as a long-running Broadway show. Don’t miss an opportunity to see The Secret Garden at the Arden. For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122, visit online at www.ardentheatre.org. or walk up to the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City Philadelphia.