The journey to the Secret Garden

Sarina (7) wonderfully played the lead role in the Secret Garden


Teruaki Ito

Sarina sings a touching piece

Sarina, a grade 7 student who attends ISSH, astonished a Tokyo audience with her performance of the lead role, Mary Lennox, in the Tokyo International Players production of “The Secret Garden.”

“The Secret Garden” is a suspenseful, dramatic, and slightly comedic musical originally adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved classic, by the same title. “The Secret Garden” was produced and staged by the Tokyo International Players (TIP) from May 14 to May 17. The musical directed by Alysha Haran, touched many hearts with its wonderful set, props, and actors. The cast included amateur and professional actors working in Japan, and a few students from international schools such as ASIJ (American School in Japan) and ISSH. Sarina and Valerie from ASIJ shared the role.

The main character Mary with her maid, Martha
Teruaki Ito
The main character Mary with her maid, Martha

The musical begins with the leading character, Mary Lennox (Sarina), orphaned after by a cholera outbreak in India. Mary, who loses both of her parents to the cholera outbreak, is sent away to Yorkshire to live with her embittered uncle, Archibald ‘Archie’ Craven.

However, Mary’s new life begins with an unexpected turn. Before Mary starts her life in Yorkshire, her uncle’s housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock, tells Mary that she should not expect to see her uncle because he is still mourning the death of his late wife, Lily. Moreover, she tells Mary that she is not allowed to wander the halls of the house, and she will not have anyone to play with. Mary’s new miserable and depressed life begins.

For the first few days, Mary still cannot recover from the death of her parents and is unenthusiastic about her new life. However, her exuberant maid Martha, forces Mary to go out and explore and spend her days outside. From then on, Mary’s life at the mansion changes.

The musical took four months to prepare. However, at first Sarina thought that she was not going to get the part because it took three weeks until she got a call. In addition, the rehearsal schedule was very demanding. “There were times when the rehearsal continued until 9:00 p.m. That was really stressful. However, but in the end it went really well. Also, the teachers at ISSH were very understanding of it, and gave me extension to do my work,” said Sarina.

The musical itself was very breathtaking. Throughout the musical the cast expressed the dark emotions of the characters. The actors, some acting in their last show with the Tokyo International Players, had  wonderful voices. All of them expressed the various emotions that defines human nature, and the various struggles that we all have. Moreover, the score and the script vividly demonstrated the various themes of the musical such as the necessity of human companionship, and the nature of reality vs. illusion.

The director, Alysha Haran, commented in an interview with the Metropolis magazine that the musical is comprised of, “ individual stories wrapped in this giant metaphor of a lost garden, a forgotten garden, a secret garden, that at first glance is also dead. Through the efforts of finding that will to go on, the garden comes back to life– and so do all of these people.”

Similarly, Sarina recalled her experience, “(The Show) was really liberating, my adrenaline was going crazy. Even though, I was a bit tempered because it was my first performance ever, it was magical. On the stage I felt like this is who I am supposed to be. I just felt complete. Something in me changed and it was an amazing feeling of belonging. It is definitely something I will remember forever.”

In the future Sarina wants to be an actress and continue to emotionally connect with audiences.

Sarina with the entire cast of the musical
Teruaki Ito
Sarina with the entire cast of the musical.