Broadway Podcast Network launches a new, five-part series chronicling the life and career of late The Secret Garden composer Lucy Simon October 25. Titled Celebrating Lucy Simon, the series is available in full as videos on YouTube and as a podcast. Watch the first episode of the video series above, covering the Tony nominee's early years.
The release was in the works before Simon's October 20 death from breast cancer at the age of 82, with episodes recorded between March and October.
Included are never-before-heard stories from Simon and a number of her collaborators, including Judy Collins, Marshall Brickman, Marsha Norman, Warren Carlyle, and others. Also included are new performances of songs from The Secret Garden and Doctor Zhivago featuring Sierra Boggess, Daisy Eagan, John Cameron Mitchell, and Ramin Karimloo.
"I cannot overstate the impact that Lucy has had on my life," says Eagan. "The Secret Garden was a formative experience for me, and quite literally may have saved my life. Lucy's music helped carry me through an extremely difficult personal time, and obviously helped to shape my professional life. Dozens of people over the years have told me that the original cast recording of The Secret Garden got them through their own difficult times. The countless people that Lucy touched with her gift will hold her in their hearts forever."
Simon is best remembered for her most enduring work, Broadway's The Secret Garden. Together with book writer and lyricist Marsha Norman, Simon put music to Frances Hodgson Burnett's 1911 novel about a young girl sent to live with her reclusive, grieving uncle in Yorkshire after an outbreak of cholera claims her entire family in British-occupied India. Though most adaptations of the work aimed themselves more for child audiences, Simon and Norman's version leaned into the novel's themes of rebirth in the wake of profound loss with an adaptation that placed the characters' departed loved ones on stage as an ensemble of ghosts following them around the dark and secluded Misselthwaite Manor. Behind the scenes, the musical made history for its unusually (for the time) female-centric creative team, which included Norman and Simon along with director Susan H. Schulman, scenic designer and producer Heidi Ettinger, costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge, and lighting designer Tharon Musser; the work also made Simon only the third-ever woman to solely compose a score for Broadway.
The musical would garner seven 1991 Tony nominations, including a nod for Simon's score, with young star Daisy Eagan winning Best Featured Actress in a Musical and becoming the youngest actor to win a Tony Award at the age of 11. In the years since, The Secret Garden has become one of the most produced musicals in the canon at schools and community and regional theatres around the country. A new Broadway-aimed revival is set to make its debut at Center Theater Group in Los Angeles, California, early next year.
Celebrating Lucy Simon is produced by Loraine Boyle, Dori Berinstein, Alan Seales, Kimberlee Garris, and the Broadway Music Network, a division of Broadway Podcast Network.