Have you ever baked chocolate chip biscuits? You slide the backing tray out of the oven, place it reverently on the bench and patiently wait for those steaming morsels of loveliness to cool. Every few minutes you stride into the kitchen and poke them with a lusty finger to check if they have reached a temperature befitting consumption, before pursing your lips in frustration and quickly leaving, lest your will should slip.

After a time that seems an age, you give up and sneakily pick one up, inhaling that wonderfull biscuit smell before sinking your teeth into the heaven which is freshly baked chocolate, chip and biscuit… only to realise… that you’ve slightly underdone them. I mean, they’re not what you were expecting but biscuit dough, cooked or not, is still pretty damn good.

And so it was with the media call of The Secret Garden. Standing in the foyer of the Lyric theatre, photographers and cameramen stood around wondering what they were going to see of a musical that hadn’t been properly announced let alone rehearsed in. 

Unusually for a media call there was an audience. Opera Australia apparently invites people to watch these things. So as we set up, a slightly tipsy, champagne breakfasted group took their seats in front of us. 

The show, as I said, is not in rehearsals yet, so instead of polished numbers, the principle cast gave us a staged explanation of the story, interspersed with songs from the show, complimented by a screen showing either headshots and designs of the corresponding actor, or a quick clip from the original Broadway show.  At times, all I could think was: “spoilers!” as actors came out and gave us a little more insight into the story.  

The highlight of course was a rendition of “Lily’s Eyes” by Anthony Warlow and Rob McDougall.  This music theatre standard is practically Warlow’s anthem, and I’m sure McDougall was wondering whether reality had taken a turn for the surreal considering that he has just finished playing Javert in Les Mis, another of Philip Quast’s (the original Australian Neville Craven) roles.  Perhaps he shall follow in the great man’s footsteps.

We saw just a sneak peak of what this production has in store.  It was slightly under cooked, but as a fan of the musical, listening to the snippets that we were handed was enough to whet my appetite.

David Hooley is a Sydney based actor and photographer.  For more information visit or visit his Facebook or Instagram page.

David Hooley

David Hooley is a Sydney based actor and photographer. A graduate of WAAPA and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; he has a passion for new Australian works.  When not on stage he runs his own photographic business - more info at

David Hooley

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