‘The Secret Garden’ musical cast share their secrets

Nigel Huckle, Rodney Dobson. Rob McDougall, Anthony Warlow, Georgina Hopson, Rowena Wallace, Alinta Chidzey of 'The Secret Garden'. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Nigel Huckle, Rodney Dobson. Rob McDougall, Anthony Warlow, Georgina Hopson, Rowena Wallace, Alinta Chidzey of 'The Secret Garden'. Photo by Jeff Busby.

Dance Informa was at the exclusive media call for The Secret Garden musical in Melbourne, and had the opportunity to ask the lead cast to share their secrets to success; the secrets that led to them playing a lead role in the world famous, The Secret Garden musical! The Secret Garden will play at the Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star from 2 August, then transfer to Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne from 13 November.

Based on the much-loved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this heart-warming story comes to life on stage with the same magical qualities, in this sophisticated take on the literary classic. The Secret Garden last played in Australia in 1995, starring Anthony Warlow, Philip Quast and Marina Prior.

'The Secret Garden'.

Producers John Frost and Opera Australia recently announced the full adult cast for the 25th anniversary production of The Secret Garden.

Anthony Warlow returns in one of his most acclaimed roles as Archibald Craven. He shares that his success secret is “losing a part of his soul, every time. We give out every time; in other words, I’m not a phone-it-in boy. I give something, and it’s why I’m exhausted at the end of each performance. Whether it’s a comedy or a drama, I think that’s the essence of who I am, and I’m passionate about my work.”

The master of Misselthwaite Manor will be Georgina Hopson (Ragtime, West Side Story) as Lily, Archibald’s late wife. Hopson credits her success to “hard work and persistence, being resilient and getting back up after rejection because that’s part of the industry. Also being kind to people, staying humble, being true to yourself and true to the work.”

Rob McDougall (Assassins, Les Misérables) will be playing Dr Neville Craven, Archibald’s brother. McDougall credits his success to “perseverance” and says, “You have to love what you do because there’s a lot of rejection and a lot of not working. If you’re doing it for money or for applause, do something else. You have to love what you do because you have to want it enough to keep pushing through those hard times.”

Alinta Chidzey (Chicago, A Little Night Music) will play Martha, Mary’s friend and maidservant. She shares, “My secret would have to be to trust your own instincts and follow through with that and whatever you do. Work hard, and have resilience.”

Rodney Dobson (Wicked, Chicago) will play gruff elderly gardener Ben Weatherstaff. His secret to success is “versatility and always have a crack at things no matter what.”

Gold Logie winner Rowena Wallace (Sons and Daughters, Neighbours) will return to the stage for the first time in many years to play Mrs Medlock, housekeeper at Misselthwaite Manor. Wallace shares her career “has been a long one”, adding, “The funny thing is, I never really wanted to become an actress. It wasn’t my choice at all; it was like someone yanked me forward and said, ‘This way, come,’ and I just grew to love it so much. Everything I’ve worked on, I’ve just enjoyed so much, and I think it’s all about not having to be me. I mean, it sort of is me, you use yourself like a musical instrument, but it’s not you, and that’s what I enjoy, I find it fascinating.” 

Also in the cast are Nigel Huckle (West Side Story, Thoroughly Modern Millie), who will be Dickon, a Yorkshire moor boy who befriends Mary and Colin. Other cast members include Jordan Angelides, Andy Conaghan, Grace Driscoll, Des Flanagan, Matt Heyward, Glenn Hill, Zoe Ioannou, Genevieve Kingsford, Matilda Moran, Bronwyn Mulcahy, Adam Noviello, Danielle O’Malley, David Ouch, James Shaw, Alec Steedman and Erica Wild. The child actors who will play Mary Lennox and Colin Craven will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for the Melbourne season of this sumptuous musical are on sale now. For further information, visit secretgardenmusical.com.au.

By Lara Bianca Pilcher of Dance Informa.

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