Wanstead on show (part II)

The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden

In the second of a series of articles looking at the annual phenomenon that is the Wanstead Fringe, Giles Wilson talks about The Secret Garden, a theatre performance that will be topping the bill this year.

It's long been the goal of the organisers of the Wanstead Fringe – a week of cultural events that takes place again this September – to bring live professional theatre to Wanstead.

And so we're delighted that, in the Fringe's sixth year, we are finally able to achieve that goal. Over two days and five performances, the much-loved novel The Secret Garden will be coming to Wanstead. It's a musical adaptation and will be performed by a theatre company on a mission to take professional theatre to parts of the country where it doesn't normally happen. For the Fringe, that means taking over the magnificent Deaton Theatre at Forest School in Snaresbrook.

Katherine Mount is the producer of the play and is leading its move to Wanstead. "The Secret Garden is such a magical show. Dave Simpson wrote this adaptation 30 years ago and it was performed once in Bournemouth before we revived it last year with a stunning new musical score, and the reception it had was incredible. Young, old and in-between were mesmerised and moved by the piece. I think a part of the draw is its classic status, meaning there are many generations of adults who loved this story as a kid and they want to relive it, either just for themselves or to share it with the next generation. It's something that people of all ages can genuinely enjoy together. This particular version is very true to the book," said Katherine.

The book tells the tale of Mary Lennox, a 10-year-old girl whose parents have died and who is sent to live with a wealthy, austere uncle. She discovers a walled garden in the grounds of her uncle's manor and the story tells of how she brings the garden back into full bloom, and with it, her new family. It was adapted by the BBC into a memorable children's TV series in 1975 and is routinely named as one of many people's favourite books.

Katherine adds: "September will be the third outing for this show and we are so pleased to be bringing it to Wanstead Fringe. The more we discovered about the Fringe, the more we realised that this venture fitted perfectly with our aims as a company. We are in the business of creating new artistic opportunity and experiences for communities right on their doorstep. There will never be anything quite like quality live theatre and the reaction we have had to date shows that people still very much want to enjoy this art form... The West End will always be there, but how much better if it comes to you every once in a while. We truly hope the people of Wanstead embrace this project and it becomes the first of many theatrical endeavours for the Wanstead Fringe."

The Secret Garden will be performed at Forest School on 8 September (11am, 3pm and 7pm) and 9 September (11am and 3pm). Tickets from £12 to £16 (family discounts available). Visit wavidi.co/wf18

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