Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s The Secret Garden inspired by family life

Becoming a mum has helped inspire Pitlochry Festival Theatre artistic director Elizabeth Newman, who is enchanting audiences with a 'magical' new adaptation.

Elizabeth Newman. Image: Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Elizabeth Newman. Image: Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Pitlochry Festival Theatre artistic director Elizabeth Newman has always loved making work for family audiences.

This driving force stems from a desire to want everyone to come to the theatre.

Since becoming a mother, however, her young daughter Annabella has become a “really good research body” for her work.

Family life in the garden

This has been especially so on Elizabeth’s journey to create a new adaptation of The Secret Garden.

Elizabeth’s family-friendly new version, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s famous novel, launched at Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s outdoor amphitheatre on July 7 and runs until August 19.

Family life in the garden has helped inspire Elizabeth Newman’s version of The Secret Garden

“My daughter Po Po, as we call her, has absolutely gone on the journey of the adaptation of The Secret Garden and has watched all the different versions with me, even though she’s not yet two,” said Elizabeth in an interview with The Courier.

“I’ll read her bits of the book.

“The other thing as well that’s been really inspiring is that Po Po and my partner Russell love to garden together.

“That’s actually probably been the biggest source of inspiration taken from our family.

“The scene between Mary and Dickon…the warmth and life in that very much came from watching Po Po and Russell in the garden and how excited they both were to look at everything that was growing.

The Secret Garden. Image: Pitlochry Festival Theatre

“There’s definitely that sense of we are a family who loves nature and it’s very much part of our life watching things grow.

“That definitely has inspired parts of the book.”

What’s The Secret Garden about?

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden was first published in 1911.

A story that celebrates the power of transformation and healing through nature, the much-loved novel continues to appeal to readers of all ages.

It regularly appears in the top 10 of all-time favourite children’s literature.

Performed in Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s outdoor amphitheatre, nestled in the theatre’s Explorers Garden, Elizabeth’s new adaptation is being published by Nick Hern Books and is available for purchase at the theatre.

Amphitheatre at Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Elizabeth read the original novel as a child and really loved it.

As she got older and re-read it, she realised it’s possible to see “different things” in it as an adult.

When she approached her brand new version, which features puppets and “beautiful music”, she wanted it to be an adaptation that all ages could enjoy, whether couples or families.

Focussing on the ‘magic’

“I very much wanted to focus on the magic,” she said.

“I wanted to focus on how the magic of the garden has transformed the people in the story.

“That was the starting point really.

“I really wanted to make all the characters people that you wanted to spend time with and get to know.

“As well as the fact that it’s set in a garden, so I wanted to have that sense of really celebrating nature within the story as well.”

Who stars in the Pitlochry play?

Elizabeth, who has been at Pitlochry since 2018, describes the cast as a “great bunch”.

It features Blythe Jandoo (Sunshine on Leith, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and A Mother’s Song: A New Folk Musical, Macrobert Arts Centre), Shona White (Mamma Mia!, West End and Merrily We Roll Along, Donmar Warehouse) and Matthew Churcher (Animal Farm, National Tour/Fiery Angel & Birmingham Rep, Peter Pan, National Theatre/Bristol Old Vic).

It also features Oliver Cookson (Hay Fever and Travels with my Aunt, Assembly Roxy); Marc Small (TV credits include The IT Crowd, Jonathan Creek and recently appeared in the Amazon Prime film The People We Hate At The Wedding with Ben Platt), Jack Ward (Bridgerton, Netflix) and Trudy Ward (As You Like It, Jupiter Theatre).

Scottish actress Blythe Jandoo stars

It’s directed by Ben Occhipinti who directs this year’s Gypsy and directed Noises Off last summer.

He’s an associate director at the theatre and really loves the story too.

Working closely with Nick Truman the designer, and Natalie the costume designer, he brings a “place and spirit” to the production.

Ben added: “The Secret Garden was one of my favourite books when I was growing up and so having the opportunity to bring this brilliant new version to life is very exciting.

“The bonus of creating the show in the beautiful amphitheatre amongst the plants and trees of the Explorers Garden is going to make it a vibrant experience for audiences”.

What else is on at Pitlochry over summer?

The Secret Garden is just one part of a busy summer season at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

“There’s loads on,” said Elizabeth.

“You can see things in our main auditorium.

“You’ve got Gypsy, you’ve got A Streetcar Named Desire, got Brief Encounter which has also got amazing music in it.

Artistic director Elizabeth Newman outside Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Image: Steve MacDougall/DCT Media

“We’ve also got a big new play, Group Portrait in a Summer Landscape, by Peter Arnott who wrote Monarch of the Glen. That’s opening in a few weeks.

“We’ve got loads of studio shows on. So we’ve got To the Bone.

The Maggie Wall (was on in June).

“We’ve also got two new plays – A Play, A Pie and a Pint and we’ve got The Secret Garden.

“We’ve also got Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Lipstick, Ketchup and Blood by Lesley Hart which is returning this year after being so successful last.

“There’s an array of lots of different things for audiences to enjoy.”

How to get tickets

The Secret Garden runs from July 7 to August 19.

Tickets are available from the Pitlochry Festival Theatre Box Office on 01796 484626 or online at