‘Poppins’ to land on McAfee stage this spring

February 9, 2018 — by Jessica Wang

For the first time, the drama department will be performing a musical with advanced stage effects and techniques, specifically theatrical flying.

The spring musical is “Mary Poppins,” the renowned broadway musical based on novels of similar title by author P. L. Travers.

The story tells of a nanny, Mary Poppins, who is able to fly and takes the children of the wealthy Banks family, Jane and Michael, on fantastical adventures in order to bring the family closer together and restore the children’s relationship with their uptight father, George.

Through donations from alumni families, previous show profits and fundraising, the drama department will be able to incorporate theatrical flying using a system of cables, pulleys and counterweights to perform many of the famous scenes from the Broadway show, including the arrival and departure of Mary Poppins, who flies in and out of the wings across the stage with her umbrella.

“We’re doing it through one of the main theatrical flying companies,” drama teacher Sarah Thermond said. “So we decided that if we’re going to do it, for the sake of safety and making sure it works well, we just had to go ahead and say we’re only doing this if we can raise the money, and so far we’ve been successful.”

Dance and vocal auditions for the spring musical were held from Jan. 24-26, and rehearsals started on Jan. 30. Performances will be on April 27-29 and May 4-5 in the McAfee Center.

Senior Hannah Julie Yoon will play the lead role of Mary Poppins. The other lead role of Bert, the narrator, will be played by senior Mateusz Kranz. The cast has 49 students from all grades. The musical score will be played live by an orchestra comprised of students and a hired pianist.

“Mary Poppins is a magical woman who appears to families with neglected and misbehaved children in order to be their nanny,” Yoon said. “And she uses her magic to bring more love and compassion to the families she works for.”

The ensemble for the spring musical has twice as many members as the fall play, including 35 students performing on stage. Along with a technical director, a musical production requires vocal and instrumental directors, a choreographer and sound managers.

The songs are well within students’ vocal range and the play is character-focused. Throughout the show, there are also magic tricks that happen on stage with each scene as well as raw dance numbers, including the memorable “Step in Time,” a large group tap number with a dance break utilizing theatrical flying. Many of these added elements present more challenges for the cast, such as higher commitment from both technical and performance aspects, compared to previous musicals.

“These are just challenges that only exist with this play because of the story and the fact that the main character has magical powers,” Thermond said. “So by choosing any show where the main character has magical abilities, you’ve automatically just created a difficulty for everyone.”

However, Thermond believes that even with these obstacles, students will be able to succeed by bringing in the right energy and attitude.

“Our kids always rise to the occasion,” Thermond said.


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