The Secret Garden comes to York Theatre Royal this summer and, to celebrate, here’s a Q&A with one of its stars, Ella Dunlop. She plays Mary Lennox in the play.
Had you read The Secret Garden before getting the role?
I knew the story as it’s one my parents loved and read to me as a child. I watched the film when I was tiny and was absolutely terrified of Maggie Smith who played Mrs Medlock. When I found about this stage production I was excited just to audition because it’s nice to do a story that you already know and that’s such a classic, but to revive it in a new way. Especially with all the challenges of the animal characters and how are you going to do that on the stage.
What character do you play?
Mary Lennox, the orphan sent to live with an uncle in Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire Moors. You start by seeing her in India and there’s a scene which is not actually in the book or the film where you see her interact with her parents in India and understand why she is the way she is. She’s not just this brat for no reason. She gets exactly what she wants when she wants in India so she doesn’t have any concept of anything other than that. She has grown up in an environment where anyone who’s not her parents or her parents’ friends or who doesn’t have her skin colour is treated like they’re invisible. She’s come to see that as normal. She hasn’t yet got to the age where she is questioning that. We meet her when she’s wanting to go out and explore.
Who will most enjoy seeing this production of The Secret Garden?
It’s for all ages. The puppets are gorgeous and the story is accessible for children and adults. Older adults will completely remember the story from when they were growing up. The beauty is that it’s quite a simple tale of discovery, finding out secrets and creating a new life. So it’s very uplifting. It will be perfect for summer holidays for kids. It’s very entertaining and the pace is very quick.
Don’t miss The Secret Garden when it arrives at York Theatre Royal from 27th July to 25th August.