by Lucie Duffort
When the curtain came up on Friday night’s opening performance of Mary Poppins, the audience was packed full of wide-eyed and bright-faced children, aged six to seventy.
The Disney version of PL Travers’ wonderful stories has been a classic since it first hit the screens in 1964. With a new film version coming in 2018, Director of Drama Spenser Morris felt it was time to bring a little of the magic to SHC’s own stage. And that magic was brought, practically perfectly.
With a 37-person cast and 79-person crew, Poppins is a true ensemble production. It includes over 100 costume changes, many large-group dance and music numbers (including phenomenal renditions of “Chim-Chim Cheree” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidoucious”). Set pieces included a convincingly color-saturated park, the rooftops of London (oh what a sight!), and a two-story version of the Banks home that swings Edwardian London right onto Ellis street. Bravo Tim Mahoney and crew.
From the first notes sweeping forth from Bert (Eugene Few ’18), to the full company finale, Musical Director Christian Bohm did a crackerjack job with sometimes surprisingly difficult material (who remembers Poppins having that much range?). Particularly enchanting were Jane and Michael Banks (Lauren Cohen ’21 and Haydin Zogaric ’21), convincingly bright, young, energetic, and yearning for attention. Themes of order vs love and the importance (or not) of what “the best people” do were quite effectively and charmingly carried across by George and Winifred Banks (Aidan Kurth ’20 and Hanna Regan ’18). Morris wove lovely moments through the action, and between kite-flying and statue awakening, bird freeing and the walking of a bulldog in a baby carriage there was never a dull moment.
Of course, we couldn’t fail to mention Mary Poppins herself. Played by Emma Mitchell ’18, the character came to life so naturally and matter-of- fact it seemed she was born with an umbrella in hand. But just as Mary’s character is set off beautifully by Bert’s baritone, this production wouldn’t be the same without every one of the over 120 students and staff members bringing wonder and whimsy to life during this run. Congratulations to everyone involved.