HEREFORD Courtyard Theatre’s adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s well-loved story is a warm adventure with great music to go with it.

The theatre was packed for the performance on Friday, October 6, in the Courtyard’s Main House as a mixture of professional and amateur actors took to the stage.

They demonstrated not only their theatrical talent, but their musical skills as well, as the production contained numerous songs including solos from the main characters and big ensemble numbers.

The nine main cast members put on an excellent show and were well-supported by four supporting roles and 20 ensemble members.

The cast included Matthew Canny as Archie, Laura Gwynne as Mrs Medlock, Robert Traynor as Ben, Lexi Myers as Lily, Finn Meredith as Doctor Craven, Juliette Ainsworth as Mary, Kaid Monaghan as Dickon, George Martin as Colin, and Iona Allan as Martha.

Canny and Traynor are two of the professional actors among the cast. Canny is known for his television credits in Downton Abbey, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and Doctors, while Traynor has appeared in several West End shows like Sweeney Todd and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as the D’Oyly Carte Opera.


The play was directed by the Courtyard’s own David Durant.

He said: “It’s never easy choosing a title that will be staged as a play. We have several elements we wish to fulfil, and they are a play that will appeal to our audience, can include young people, and something exciting that has added drama to it. The Secret Garden stood out as it’s a great story, with lots of parts for young people and a classic piece of literature which is a good sign when it comes to our audience.

“When re-reading the story, I was really struck by how much people change and in almost all cases for the better. We use a lot of suitcases throughout the production to represent the sense of journey that all the characters are on but also to bring on items and bits of set.

“It’s fantastic to see the company lift their game as they take on lots of the techniques seen in front of them. It is also a very humble rehearsal place for many of the cast either at school or working throughout the day and they blend very nicely. I always really enjoy working in this format as it’s about setting very high artistic standards.

“I’ve learnt that you need to trust the team of cast and creatives around you and that you can’t rush the rehearsal process.

“The musical quality of our piece is very powerful. The songs and lyrics evoke strong emotions of nature and the bold performances from many of the youth theatre members in the cast have shown very real talent and it is a joy to watch.”

It was adapted from the book for the stage by Gary Lyons, with the music composed by Tim Sutton.

There’s one more chance to see this wonderful adaptation tonight (Saturday, October 7) and tickets can be bought from the Courtyard box office by calling 01432 340555.