Don’t sweep away your chance to see ‘Mary Poppins’

Theatre department shows set for April 26-29


Mary Stempky

Senior Ethan Gogel leads the cast during a rehearsal of “Mary Poppins.”

Annika Garwood, Reporter

The theatre program is hoping to wow spectators as it prepares to open gates for the spring musical “Mary Poppins” on April 26.

The show will open with a student matinee that morning at 9 a.m. for grade school students, with three more shows for the students and parents to attend: April 26, April 27 and April 28 at 7:30 p.m. and April 29 at 3 p.m. in the auditorium. Students are admitted free with their ID cards, and regular ticket prices are $15.

Fine Arts Department Chair Mr. Michael Moffatt explained “Mary Poppins” for people who are unfamiliar with the story. “It’s basically a musical for the movies that came out in the 1960s starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. It’s about a family who is looking for a nanny and one kind of magically appears. They need a nanny because the kids are sort-of bad and they get this nanny.”

He went on to explain that it is a nicer version of Nanny McPhee because Mary is a “nice person who shows (the kids) all the amazing things they can do at home.” Mr. Banks, the father of the children Mary Poppins nannies, is a “very rigid banker” and is the exact opposite of Mary. As a result of this, a nanny replaces Mary in the middle of the play who is explained to be Mr. Banks’ nanny from his childhood.

“And he fixes that problem too,” Moffatt commented with a laugh. “The real point and theme of this play that we want to convey to others is ‘Anything can happen if you let it.’”

There are many limitations and struggles that can cause a play to be selected by the performing arts department. “There’s always things to look at like technical things with the school and budget. It’s funny because we normally don’t get to chose the plays that we would really want to do because we have to consider the size of our program, the appropriateness of the content of the show, and also how many male and female parts do you need and can you switch genders for some roles. We have a lot of girls in our program and not a lot of guys so we have to pick shows that have strong females and the possibility to change genders if you don’t have that strength.”

Moffatt said that after those barriers are crossed there were many musicals that could be performed. The licensing process is pretty simple, he said. “Normally, if we ask to get a license for a musical we can get it pretty easily. The only issue would be with touring musicals, but even then if we ask we normally get the license.”

Following that, Moffatt said he and his department colleagues crunch numbers and get to the core of every production: whether or not Moffatt and Director of Theatre Arts Ms. Jennifer Alexander are really excited about the play.

“The last question we ask ourselves is, ‘Do we want to do this?’ because if we aren’t excited about it, then it’s really hard for everything to go well. There are all these hoops and obstacles we have to jump through. We always ask the teachers ‘What do you think about this’ and we consider the student body and the students of this program.”

Tech theatre is a big part of this play because according to Moffatt, there is a lot of painting, planning and building.

“Tech theatre kids directly take the skills I teach them in class and create set for all of our plays.” He also explained that there is a volunteer set crew that comes in after school, and students do not have to take the class in order to attend. The crew after school works on sets, props, lighting or costuming. “So they’ll do more of the technical stuff rather than just building the sets. But really it’s a group effort. The students in class make the sets and the volunteers after school work on the finer details.”

For the main characters, senior Maggie Lengerich plays Mary Poppins, senior Ethan Gogel will play Uncle Bert, senior Andrew Bessler is Mr. Banks, sophomore Anne Leppert plays Jane and sophomore Jack Lindner will portray Michael.

Leppert said that the auditioning process was “really run but also nervous.” Her favorite part about playing Jane is getting to sing some of the songs she grew up listening to. Finally, she said she was “most excited for people to see everything, but the flying and dancing is really cool.”

According to Moffatt, there were many struggles along the process of creating this musical. “This is a really big play. It’s a big show for me because how we decided to do it with the set. There are a lot of things that need to be painted, and real scenery as well.”

Moffatt said the biggest struggle was how many members of the staff have been ill. “This has not happened to us as bad as it has now. First the choreographer, then the music director, then Ms. Alexander got sick twice. So all these things kind of broke up our process and that’s what has made it kind of hard for us.

The next step is rehearsing with costumes, sets, then putting it all under the lights.

Moffatt ended the interview by noting how many people were involved in theatre. “We have a lot of people with the classes during the day, 87 actors and about 55 tech crew. If you add those up, that’s a pretty large percent of the school. So I would hope that anyone that has had their hands in it somewhat is here and gets to see ‘Mary Poppins.’”

Mary Poppins is known for her magic and the crew plans to deliver. “This play is huge for the stunts with magic, flying; the characters, and the set has to move to all these different locations. So the spectacle of it all is really going to be something to see.”

Moffatt said whenever any school puts on a Disney show, it is sure to draw a young audience. “Everyone knows the name Mary Poppins and everyone knows the story line, so we are predicting full houses on all shows.

“Just get there to see it and support your classmates for a wonderful show about a classic story.”