Monday, June 29, 2009

Secret Garden and Some Garden Secrets

In 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnette published her endearing novel, The Secret Garden. The book tells the story of orphaned Mary Lennox, and the magic she works on an ailing cousin, a heartbroken uncle, and a tough talking village lad. The art of gardening bring then together, through the rejuvenation of life in a garden that has been long neglected.

In 2009, our Emily Trask plays Lily, in the the award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival's production of the musical version of The Secret Garden. She can also be seen as Katharine in Henry V.

While on the topic of Emily, I am going to go ahead with some "breaking news," since Emily is not one to fluff her own feathers. She was recently awarded the Danny Kaye Foundation Fellowship, which provides her lots of support as she finishes her MFA at Yale, but also guarantees her a network of professional connections. Unbeknownst to Emily, her professors recommended her for this award which was establish eight years ago to recognize, honor and support actors with outstanding potential in musical theatre. This is the first time the committee administering the award felt there was a candidate worthy of the Fellowship. So there you have it!

Last year, my friend Lucy, told me about Manitowoc's own secret garden. There is a gentleman who dreams up new varieties of peonies, and has a massive plot of land planted with them, and a number of other breathtaking flowers. Some of the peonies are in bloom, but many are still in the bud stage. If you go, and I hope you do, plan for a quiet, 30 minute or so walk through this wonderful place. To get there go west on Custer off Rapids road. Turn left on Edgewood Lane, and follow the twisty road until you get to the garden. You will find it on the right side of the street, smack in the middle of a residential area. Enjoy.

Tracy Kane wrote a series of summer crafty books for families: Fairy Houses, Fairy Boat, Fairy Flight, Fairy Houses and Beyond. She gives instructions on building intricate houses, boats and planes to hide in your garden. Kane stresses using natural objects that have already fallen to the earth, combined with other found objects, and recycled treasures. Brenda did a fairy house building workshop a few summer ago.

The next time you're passing by, scour our little garden for our hidden flamingo flat. The dwelling has a Key West/Margaritaville vibe, and includes not so subliminal homages to Elvis, Beatix Potter, Van Gogh, and Santa.

In State of the Arts news....BBC America is running a fun little show called "How-Do Marias." Andrew Lloyd Weber, oh, excuse me, SIR Andrew Lloyd Weber, is mounting a fresh production of "The Sound of Music" in London's West End theatre district, and is casting his Maria in an American Idol style format. Each week, the wanna-be's sing their hearts out, and are judged by a panel of British theatre professionals, including SALW himself.

The performances are all amazing, Broadway quality, and the contenders do not hide their diva-tudes during the evaluation segment of the show. They roll their eyes, scrunch their faces, they huff, they defend, and they argue. It's all very fun, until the finale when one girl is hurled off of the top of the Alps, so to speak. It's hard to watch, but not as hard as the sign off. The poor girl who is eliminated is forced to sing "So Long, Farewell" from "The Sound of Music" as the remaining contestants wave goodbye and send her on her way. Painful.

I feel like I should say something about Michael Jackson, but am still figuring out why his death has affected me so. Motown was never my style of music, and those intricate, synced moves done by groups like the Temptations, and the Four Tops always made me laugh - although their harmonies were thrilling. But when the Jackson Five + Michael came on the scene, my toes started tapping. Last night the BET Awards paid tribute to Jackson in a way that only his brothers and sisters could. There was no talk of his peculiar life, or speculation about his death. But there were plenty of soulful voices raised in his memory, including one knockout interpretation of "Ave Maria" by Beyonce. The show was a powerhouse tribute to a powerhouse performer, and is sure to be re-run, Catch it if you can.

What am I reading? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I am only on page 85, so there's not much to report, except for the unsettling framework. The story of Liesel, young, innocent, and trying to understand the machinations of Hitler dominated Germany, is told through the voice of Death. Yes, Death narrates the entire story amplifying the already troubling nature of the topic. No emotions are stronger than those associated with death, but this narrator is cold, creating anxiety in the reader. It the same technique that Hitchcock used in so many of his movies...little, subliminal tricks to make his audience nervous.

Looks like rain. Harrumph!

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