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When: Dec. 26-Jan. 1 2012

The singing is powerful, and the orchestra is strong. But Stacey Flaster's garbled stage direction and choreography result in a muddy Garden for Light Opera Works. Based on the 100-year-old YA novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this 1991 musical follows the fortunes of Mary Lennox, an English orphan sent to live on her uncle's gothic-gloomy Yorkshire estate. The stage is often full of ghosts who advance the story and belt out Lucy Simon's lovely, folk-inflected score. Trouble is, Flaster's stylized opening sequences are so cryptic that you can spend a long time trying to figure out who the ghosts are, how they got to be ghosts, and what they're doing in Yorkshire. The question of why their movements are so dully repetitive lingers unanswered throughout. Talented middle-schooler Sophie Thatcher has evidently been pushed to play it big as Mary: her performance amounts to a series of outsize, incoherent gestures. —Tony Adler

Price: $32-$94

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