Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

The Secret GardenSarasota Ballet
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Faust

Katelyn May, Guilherme Dias, Edward French,
Jack Kadzis, Patrick Ward, and Ricardo Graziano

Photo by Frank Atura
Sarasota Ballet recently opened its season with a revival of Will Tuckett's The Secret Garden, created for this company in 2014. Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel, narrator Edward French tells the story, mostly in verse, as the emotions spin out before us in the language of dance. I loved the production when I first saw it in 2014, and this time rough edges that lingered due to the hectic creative process are gone and it is even more wonderful. Last time I hoped that this delightful stage version might find a foothold in ballet repertoire; now I am certain that will happen. It should be one of two perfect ways to introduce children to he magical world of ballet, The Nutcracker being the other.

The large cast all were at the top of their respective games on opening night. Katelyn May, new to Sarasota Ballet, shone brightly as Mary. If memory serves, she was far better than the dancer I saw in the first production. May completely captured the character's transition from pouty to open, happy child, beautifully, aided by Tuckett's choreography. Ricardo Graziano as Dickon shared several pas de deux with her in the titular garden, forming some of the highlights of this piece. A trio for the two, plus Mary's cousin Colin, danced by Logan Learned, showed Colin gaining strength after being a cripple and all but stopped the show.

The score is by Jeremy Holland Smith and was pre-recorded for this production. Tim Meacock's designs, scenic and costume were a visual delight and seemed to have a dance-life of their own, magnificently helping to tell the story. Lighting was on the same superlative level, by Aaron Muhl. Puppet design by Toby Olié added yet another level of wonderfulness. The libretto is by Alasdair Middleton and, aside from describing Colin's late mother as "beautiful as roses kissed by dew" a few times too often, is perfectly in sync with Tuckett's artistic vision.

I admit I was looking forward to revisiting Will Tuckett's The Secret Garden, but never in my wildest imagination did I expect it to take on so much additional luster. Unfortunately, the run was too short for me to be able tell you to rush out and see it, but if it is revived again, don't miss it.

Sarasota Ballet's The Secret Garden ran October 27-29, 2017, at the Mertz Theater in the FSU Center. 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida. Box Office (941) 359-0099. For more information visit

Mary Lennox: Katelyn May
Dickon: Ricardo Graziano
Colin: Logan Learned
Mr. Craven: Jamie Carter
Lillias (Mr. Craven's Deceased Wife): Victoria Hulland
Mrs. Medlock: Kate Honea
Mrs. Lennox (Mary's Deceased Mother: Kristianne Kleine
Mr. Lennox (Mary's Deceased Father): Weslley Carvalho
Martha: Elizabeth Sykes
Ben Weatherstaff: Ricki Bertoni
Doctor Webster: Nicolas Moreno
Doctor Fortescue: Daniel Pratt
Female Servant & Crow and Rabbit Puppeteer: Indiana Cote
Female Servant & Nurse: Madysen Felber
Female Servant and Robin Puppeteer: Dagny Hanrahan
Female Servant and Rabbit Puppeteer: Ellen Overstreet
Male Servant & Crow Puppeteer: Guilherme Dias
Male Servant & Fox Puppeteer: Jack Kadzis
Male Servant &Fox Puppeteer: Patrick Ward
Male Servant & Robin Puppeteer: Daniel Pratt
Narrator: Edward French

Choreography: Will Tuckett
Composer: Jeremy Holland: Smith
Designer: Tim Meacock
Librettist: Alasdair Middleton
Puppet Designer: Toby Olié
Restaged: Will Tuckett, Ricardo Graziano and James Jordan
Lighting Designer: Aaron Muhl