REVIEW: APA's 'Mary Poppins': Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
The Patriot Players from Arendell Parrott Academy performed ‘Mary Poppins’ at Farmville’s Paramount Theater last week. Photo by Scott Cole / Neuse News
FARMVILLE — Many of us grew up watching the Disney classic film, “Mary Poppins.” The Academy Award-winning film starring Julie Andrews has captivated generations for more than 50 years, ingrained memorable songs in our brains and recently spawned a theatrical sequel. The movie was also the inspiration for a Broadway musical.
It’s this adaptation of the famous story the theater students at Arendell Parrott Academy — the Patriot Players — brought to the stage in a series of performances held at the Paramount Community Theater in Farmville last week. The final performance was held Sunday afternoon after a weekend of sold-out shows.
This is not the same story as the film version as it is a blending of the movie and the stories by author P.L. Travers. There are some differences between the famous film and the Broadway musical version. Some of the songs are taken out while others are added in. Some other characters are added in while others are omitted.
For technical reasons, some of the “magical scenes” from the film are not present. So, while you may not see Mary Poppins fly in on her umbrella or dancing cartoon penguins, there still is enough magical special effects sure to delight the child in all of us.
“When I read the play, I didn’t know if we could pull it off,” Amy Albritton Calhoun, the director of the play, said. “I thought that it might be too hard to do. There was going to be a lot of pressure on the cast because of how familiar the movie is.
“However, I liked the fact that the play was different. There is a lot more character development in the play, especially with the mother. You see a lot more growth in the members of the family than you do in the movie version. It’s similar enough where you know the story, but different enough to have some enjoyable surprises. The kids did a fantastic job with it.”
As Mary Poppins, Cambria Duke, was “practically perfect in every way,” to borrow a famous line from the production. Taking on such a memorable role is no easy task, but she more than fit the part. Her portrayal of the classic character was spot on; done with the elegance and grace befitting the role. Duke was also able to masterfully deliver the “British witty” one-liners that Mary offers up throughout the play.
“I’ve been practicing hard for the last six weeks in preparation for this week,” Duke said. “I’ve been taking dancing lessons all my life and singing lessons for years. I was so happy to get the lead in this musical. It’s been a lot of hard work but it has been so much crazy fun!”
The role of Bert, the male lead, was portrayed by Kyle Turik. In the musical version, Bert is less the romantic love interest/friend of Mary Poppins and more the narrator who helps to drive the story. Turik played a perfect counterpart to Duke in providing the magic to the story.
“It was a lot of work, but it was worth it in the end,” Turik said. “It was also a lot of fun, because I liked the character, in general. It wasn’t hard to get into character. To be able to do all the big dance numbers and to have fun on stage was good.”
Besides Ms. Poppins, the most captivating character was Mr. Banks, played ably by Ridge Lewis. Mr. Banks was probably the most difficult character to portray as you witness his transformation from gruff, work-driven father to devoted family man.
Likewise, playing Mrs. Banks was Rachel Alexander-Lee. Instead of an advocate for women’s rights who neglects her children, she is a woman desperately trying to be the woman that her children and husband need. Speaking of the children, youngsters Georgie Lewis and Jordyn Baysden played the two impish children, Jane and Michael.
Besides the main cast, many of the secondary cast offered memorable performances as well. Grayson Wray offered up a very moving role as the Bird Lady. Jenna Alhosaini played several characters, but the role of Mrs. Brill, the snarky maid was wonderful. Elizabeth Norris’s performance as the cantankerous Mrs. Andrew, an anti-Mary Poppins, was stellar.
Finally, no musical would be complete without some of the other people behind the scenes. Lisa Duke, the musical director and Eulalia VanFosson did a wonderful job with the musicians in tackling the songs for the play. Amanda Oakley Hort, Aliza Matthews and Emily Thomas Wells handled the choreography, and did an impressive job with such physically active songs as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Step in Time.” The costumes, put together by Chris Saracino and the sets organized by Sydney Herlong and Jacob Fisher transported you back to Victorian England. Many of the sets were designed and painted by Nastia Hnatov , a freshman at APA.
“A lot of hard work went into making this happen,” Calhoun said. “It was a huge effort of at least 150 people for the music, sets, costumes, everything. They all chipped in to make this what it is. I am grateful for everything they did.”
Neuse News Editor Bryan Hanks contributed to this report.