The Secret Garden The Secret Garden opens with a whirlwind fifteen-minute stretch that takes us from India to England and up to a gloomy estate in rural Yorkshire — it's a dreamlike passage of music and brisk scenery changes that mirrors the confusion young Mary Lennox (Alexis Kinney) must feel at traversing the world after the death of her parents. Kinney makes Mary truculent, stubborn and only reluctantly interested in her new home, which is dominated by the brooding Archibald Craven (Peter Lockyer) and his incessant pining for his dead wife. Marsha Norman's adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel requires these two mourners to suffer independently before eventually coming to terms with each other, and Kinney and Lockyer spar with growing fondness as the show progresses. Lockyer is very good, particularly in his scenes with Kinney and opposite his scheming, jealous brother, Neville (Anthony Holds). Lockyer's defeated carriage and downcast eyes shroud a magnificent heart, which becomes evident when he and Holds reminisce in song about Archibald's wife ("Lily's Eyes"). Julie Cardia provides much-needed levity as the unstintingly cheerful maid, Martha, lighting up Mary's life as well as the somberness of the proceedings — she also maintains a solid Yorkshire accent. As her brother, Dickon, Joseph Medeiros struggles with the accent, but all is forgiven when he sings — he's got some set of pipes, and his full-throated duet with Kinney ("Wick") is quite the treat. The end, although a touch rushed in its sudden development, is satisfying indeed as Mary and Archibald leave behind their world of ghosts. Presented by Stages St. Louis under the direction of Michael Hamilton through August 21 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre (111 South Geyer Avenue, Kirkwood; 314-821-2407 or www.stagesstlouis.org). Tickets are $15 to $55. — Paul Friswold
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