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The Lowdown with The Secret Garden Cast

Posted 16th August 2022

Ahead of their show at The London Palladium this August, we caught up with Hadley Fraser, Emma Williams and Maiya Quansah-Breed from The Secret Garden – In Concert to find out more

How does it feel to be performing at the London Palladium?

Hadley: What a treat. Such a jewel in the crown of the West End. Only ever have great nights here whether on stage or in the crowd.

Emma: It’s like returning home for me. I started my West End career in this theatre twenty years ago. To be back on this iconic stage with such an incredible team is a joy and a privilege that I am very grateful for. I can’t wait to hear this brilliant score filling that huge auditorium.

Maiya: When the press release came out, and my name is on there with so many iconic performers, I can’t actually get my head around it, that’s me, up there, with them? It just hasn’t even registered yet. It is and always will be a pinch me moment. And the Palladium? The most iconic performance space there is, I still honestly can’t quite believe it.

Tell us a bit more about your character in The Secret Garden

Hadley: Archibald Craven is a man beset by sorrow – the loss of his wife Lily has hit him hard and his bed-bound son Colin his sole focus. It’s hard to judge a piece of historical fiction by contemporary standards of course – but the fears, obstacles and desires in Archie’s life are universally easy to recognise and empathise with. By the end of the show he, as well as many others, has realised that life must go on.

Emma: Lily is the late wife of Archibald Craven and mother to Colin. Although she’s dead, her spirit and voice fill the halls of Misselthwaite, as well as Archie’s mind, as she helps him to learn to love his son and let her go, so he can live again without her. The Secret Garden was originally hers and it is the gift she wants to share and help her family heal.

Were you a fan of the show before and had you read the book?

Maiya: The Secret Garden is SO special to me. This piece literally holds a piece of my heart. My Nana Linda absolutely loved it and she got me into it and I remember she recorded it for me on video tape, and I used to watch it on repeat with my Nana and my Grandad Pete. My Nana is no longer with us, and she was literally my universe, so every time I think about the Secret Garden my heart pangs a little in memory of her, I wish she was here so I could share this moment with her. I was a part of a production in my second year, when I was at GSA and I hadn’t watched the film in years, so i watched it again, I was nervous just because I knew it was going to open a wound I wasn’t ready for, and let me tell you, I cried like there was no tomorrow, but I also laughed and felt all warm and fuzzy inside and it ignited my love for it all over again.

Emma: I studied children’s literature as part of my English degree and I’ve always loved The Secret Garden, particularly being a Yorkshire lass. I never got to see the full show but the few clips from London and Broadway online have always mesmerised me. There’s something so beautiful and classical in this modern score – it’s truly haunting (forgive the pun).

Hadley: I had sung a couple of the songs from the show at college. My singing teacher at RAM was a fan and encouraged me to listen. However never having seen a production, or indeed read the book, I find myself discovering it in its entirety for the first time.

What do you think it is about The Secret Garden that has captured audience’s hearts over the years?

Emma: I think it’s a story for everyone. It’s tragic yet uplifting and teaches about familial love in a gentle and heartfelt manner. There’s something about it being so rooted in truth that makes it appealing and timely, even 111 years after the book was written.

Maiya: The story is so heartfelt, that’s how I feel about it anyway, there is such an air of beauty that children can possess and they can make you look at the world in a different way, through their perspective, and I think there is gorgeous innocence to the story and defiance from young Mary Lennox that drives the story, it’s amazing to see a young child possess so much drive yet curiosity be the centre fold of this piece. And I think it reiterates in the best way possible, that sometimes, children know best.

Hadley: Fundamentally I suppose it is a story about hope, life continuing and change being possible. That will always have audiences hearts. Combine that with a sweepingly beautiful score, full of craft and grace, and that feels to me a winning recipe.

What can the audience expect from this production?

Maiya: The cast is absolutely incredible, and it’s a one night only event, how could you miss it?! It’s going to be a magical experience!

Hadley: Seldom are audiences in the West End treated to productions with an orchestra of this size. To me, that’s the stand out point. Hearing a score in its entirety, as intended, sparing nothing in the production of the sound itself is a rare thrill. And to sing with said band and an exciting cast with talent oozing from all sides – well, that just doesn’t come around all that often. Audiences are in for a classy treat.

Emma: A beautifully staged version of a not-oft seen classic, with incredible performers and stunning musicians, in the legendary and majestic London Palladium. What more could you want for a late summer Sunday?

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