Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, The Secret Garden, “How Could I Ever Know?”
Nikki Renée Daniels
One of the most prolific and admired writers for young readers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Frances Hodgson Burnett gave the world such lovable books as Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess, and her most affecting book of all, The Secret Garden. The tale of a young girl who makes a genuine emotional journey from loneliness, self-pity, and misbehavior to sweetness and generosity, The Secret Garden was a natural for dramatic adaptation. Audiences have seen it repeatedly over the decades in theater, film, and television. The 1991 musical dazzled Broadway audiences, thanks to the music by Lucy Simon (the gifted sister of singer Carly Simon); the book and lyrics by Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman; and performances in the leading roles by Mandy Patinkin, Rebecca Luker, and Daisy Eagan (who, at age eleven, became the youngest female performer ever to win a Tony Award).
The central male character in The Secret Garden, Archibald Craven, has been reclusive since the untimely death of his wife, Lily. Her ghost appears several times in the course of the show, most poignantly toward the end. It has just been revealed that Colin, the sickly boy confined to his room in Archibald’s house, is actually their son. In Lily’s final appearance before Archibald, singing “How Could I Ever Know?”, she declares her love for him while urging him to take care of their child.