I'll never forget the first time I watched the movie Mary Poppins. I was captivated by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The way they danced across the stage was something I'll never forget. Couple that with songs like Step in Time, Jolly Holiday and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and you have a movie that has stood the test of time.
So imagine my surprise when I heard earlier this year that the North Lamar High School Theatre was going to be putting this production on this fall. Obviously I was a little worried about how they would be able to pull off some of the effects from the movie. Those thoughts were quickly put to rest, though.
Directors Cody Head and Laura Hutchings did an amazing job captivating the story of Mary Poppins and bringing it to the North Lamar stage. The production has only been available a short time and North Lamar is one of the first High Schools in the country to get the rights to this Broadway production.
The musical is set in London in the early 1900's. It's a beautiful story about the transformation of a family as they realize what is really important in life. This production did an amazing job capturing the time period with costumes and set design. Something else they did was bring to life the production with a colorful array of costumes. From red dresses to orange suits, the cast of characters shined on the stage.
The scenes themselves ranged from inside Mr. and Mrs. Banks home to the rooftops. They also threw in a park, a street corner, a bank and inside a kitchen. Not only did they have elaborate scenes, they also had amazing effects. Imagine this: Mary Poppins (played by Brittany Birch) pulling a coat rack out of a normal size hand bag. Or perhaps a messed up kitchen magically fixing and straightening itself up. All of this happened right before the audiences eyes. Perhaps the most impressive effect, though, was when characters would fly on and off the stage. Thanks to a company out of Las Vegas, Mary Poppins flew on and off just like in the movie. Bert (played by Nic Corpus) used the contraption during his Step in Time dance routine that made him look like he was running upside down.
Any type of musical usually requires a huge cast to pull it off and this production was no different. It took over 60 people to put this production together. Everyone watching the show can see the people on the stage, but props (pun intended) should be given to the people behind the scenes. The lighting, scene change and wardrobe personnel all deserve a huge round of applause.
Now to the cast. This cast was perfectly pieced together. Nic was the perfect Bert. He had the accent and maneurisms down as well as the dancing. Mr. and Mrs. Banks were played by Adrian Hobbs and Kallyn Burchinal respectively. The two children, Jane and Michael, were played by Ella Ryan Harper and Cable Pickering. The ensemble/dancers/chorus were spot on with all they had to do. From top to bottom, the cast was great and you could tell they enjoyed being on the stage.
The packed house loved the performance as well. Ovations were given after every song and even in the middle of several of them. It's hard to believe the production is already over. My only regret is that I didn't see it Thursday so I could write this and convince more people to see it. For those of us who did see it, though, we can relish the words of Jane and Michael Banks: "We won't forget you, Mary Poppins. We won't forget."
(All pictures used with permission from Tony Corso)