Anya Rothman is playing the spunky Mary Lennox in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s The Secret Garden. She takes is on her journey.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell us how old you are and tell our readers what roles you have played and what shows you have appeared in?
Anya: I’m Anya Rothman and I’m 11 years-old. Musical theater is my favorite thing to do. A few of my favorite roles include Annie Who in the national tour of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Sweetie Pie in Because of Winn-Dixie at Delaware Theatre Company, Gretl in The Sound of Music at Millbrook Playhouse, and the title role in Annie.
Why did you want to appear in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Secret Garden?
I love the book, The Secret Garden, and I have listened to the cast recording for years and love it, too, so playing Mary Lennox has been a dream role of mine for a long time. I was especially excited about the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production because of the opportunity to work with Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, who wrote the show, and Daisy Eagan, who was the original Mary Lennox.
How is Mary Lennox like you, and how is she different than you? What do you admire about Mary and what do you not admire about her?
Mary Lennox, at the beginning of the show, is very different from me because she is nasty and short-tempered. I really don’t admire how she is rude and abusive to people, even when they are just trying to help her and have fun with her. But I do admire how Mary is very determined to make Colin better, and she doesn’t give up even though Dr. Craven doesn’t like it. I’m a lot like Mary because we both like being outside, gardening, animals, and nature.
What is The Secret Garden about from the point of view of Mary?
Mary starts out a very sad, lonely girl, so the story for her is about finding friendship and family, getting healthy, reviving the garden, and healing Colin.
What do we learn about your character from the solos you sing in the show?
In “I Heard Someone Crying,” we learn that Mary is curious and defiant because she goes exploring even though she was told not to.
“It’s a Maze” shows us Mary is adventurous and likes to enjoy the gardens.
“Show Me the Key” tells us Mary is a quick learner and she wants to find the key to Lily’s garden.
“The Girl I Mean to Be” reveals why Mary wants to find the garden, and that she needs a place to belong.
In “Wick,” Mary sings with Dickon about going to work to try to bring the garden back to life.
“Come Spirit, Come Charm” shows Mary’s connection to India.
In the “Letter Song,” Mary writes a letter to Archie saying she wants to stay at Misselthwaite Manor and she wants him to come home and be together with her and Colin.
How did you prepare for your role? What were the greatest challenges you had while learning your role and how did your director and musical director help you?
I started preparing to play Mary before rehearsals began by learning the music and lines from the original version of the show. Even though there are some changes from the original, it gave me a head-start since there was so much to learn. My greatest challenge was finding my inner nastiness. The director and music director helped by giving me examples of what to do and telling me not to pull back.
Which character or characters that you do not play are most like you and why and how?
I’m most like Martha and Dickon, because they are both really nice. Also, Dickon really loves being outside and plants and animals, and Martha likes to cheer people up.
You are working with many Broadway veterans and stars. What have they taught you and what do you admire most about them?
I’ve learned that everyone’s human, and even if they are famous, they are normal people, too. I admire that they have a great sense of humor, they are really nice, and they have great stories.
What advice would you give to a young actor who is preparing to play your role in his or her production of The Secret Garden?
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to go all-out in your performance, because if you don’t then the audience won’t see Mary Lennox’s life, they will see a girl trying to make sure she doesn’t embarrass herself.
What roles would you really like to play on the stage that you have not played before?
I have a long wish list of dream roles, but currently at the top are Small Alison in Fun Home, Tina Denmark in Ruthless!, Lily in The Secret Garden, Portia in Something Rotten!, and Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Why should young theatergoers come to see The Secret Garden?
Kids should come see The Secret Garden because of the beautiful music and costumes, immersive sets, and the sweet story about family and finding friendship.
The Secret Garden plays through January 8, 2017, at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall – 610 F Street NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets call the box office at (202) 547-1122, or purchase them online.
Daisy Eagan: From Her Tony Award-winning Mary Lennox to Playing Martha in ‘The Secret Garden’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company by Joel Markowitz.
Henry Baratz on Playing Colin Craven in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s ‘The Secret Garden’ by Joel Markowitz.
Anya Rothman on playing Mary Lennox in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s ‘The Secret Garden’ by Joel Markowitz.
Review #1: ‘The Secret Garden’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company by Ana Morgenstern.
Review #2: ‘The Secret Garden’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company by PJ McMahon.