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ITHACA, NY – Mary Poppins, everyone’s favorite nanny, will sing and dance her way across the Ithaca High School stage April 8-10. Full of magic and fun, Mary Poppins is all about finding joy in life, a message guaranteed to appeal to all ages.
Obsessed with work, George Banks’ (Ben Salomon) connection to his family is in trouble. Winifred’s (Erin Hilgartner) efforts as wife and mother aren’t working. The children, Jane (Gigi Weislogel) and Michael (Clare Weislogel), are desperate for love and attention.
When the magical Mary Poppins (Elisheva Glaser) blows in on the east wind, she is more than just a “practically perfect” nanny: she’s the catalyst who can heal this fractured British family. Jack-of-all-trades Bert (Howard Kraskow) offers help as well, as narrator and friend.
“The cast trusts each other and that means they’re more willing to take risks, which has resulted in an exceptionally good production,” says Robert Winans, director.
The show offers some truly magical moments, surprising for a high school production. The set design, by New York City professional Tyler M. Perry, is elaborate, and the audience would be advised to keep a close eye on the strange things that happen when Mary Poppins is around.
Steve Brookhouse and his IHS tech club built the set, and their enthusiasm for the design can be seen even in the titles they whimsically gave the books on the shelves.
The stage version of Mary Poppins has more music than the movie, with some new songs as well as those beloved from the film. The Academy Award-winning Sherman brothers wrote the music and lyrics (with additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe).
The script, by Julian Fellowes, is based on the children’s books by P. L. Travers and the 1964 Disney film and fuses elements from both. Some of the familiar scenes from the movie are missing while others from the books have been added.
In this version, Mary Poppins isn’t the only strong female character: Winifred, too, is a model of female empowerment, unusual for a show set in 1910. As the story unfolds, Winifred finds her voice and stands up for her family. “Some of the most powerful moments in the show are hers. What she sings is really moving,” says Nathan Parker, music director.
Laura Preston, choreographer, has incorporated some of the Broadway choreography into the show, such as the arm movements in “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” which are based on sign language. “The cast is very enthusiastic and the audience will especially love the tap dancing and percussion in ‘Step in Time,’” she says, which is accompanied by the energetic pit orchestra led by Kristin Zaryski.
The period costumes, designed by Liz Woods, are a perfect complement to the delightful accents the cast uses – everything from British to German to Irish.
Mary Poppins runs one weekend only, April 8-10; April 8th and 9th at 7:00 pm; April 10 at 2 pm, in Ithaca High School’s Kulp Auditorium. Get tickets at the door or on-line at www.ihsdrama.ticketleap.com. Children, students and seniors $8, adults $12.
Fri, April 8 at 7:00 pm
Sat, April 9 at 7:00 pm
Sun, April 10 at 2:00pm
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