Thursday, January 23, 2020

“Mary Poppins Jr.”: Performance practically perfect in every way

Ava Lamkin as Mary Poppins
By Emma Bennett
Windham Middle School’s production of “Mary Poppins Jr.” not only showed us the hard medicine of deeper underlying themes, it treated us to a large spoonful of talent. The troupe brought an adaptation of the Disney classic straight to the stage. The audience was blown away, not from the winds in the East, but from the extraordinary talent illuminating the stage on their opening night. The winter storm that canceled school, bringing inches and inches of snow, couldn’t stop the show from going on.

The director, Suzy Cropper, took the time to interview amid all the hustle and bustle happening backstage before the show. Cropper, who’d been a musical director for Windham Middle School for many years, was ecstatic to be able to direct the first production of Mary Poppins Jr. that Windham Middle School had ever seen.

“I have loved it. It’s been fun working with the kids,” Cropper said with a smile. “And it’s been fun to see their creativity come out as we work through scenes and come up with ways that are able to tell our story.” to Cropper, several weeks ago, they took time during rehearsal to learn more about the Edwardian Era in 1910 - the period in which the musical is set. They learned about class distinctions, the contrast between rich and poor that is sometimes overlooked and overshadowed by gleam and glamor. It’s plain to see that the character development from it has paid off.

“I’m so proud of this cast and this wonderful show that they’ve put together,” said Lucy Hatch, assistant director. “I love seeing stuff come to life. It’s very different from being onstage.” Hatch’s history with the director stretches way back to third grade when she’d attended Mainstage Academy, a musical theater school run by Cropper. Hatch still has music lessons with her.

The energy backstage was invigorating as cast members shared their thoughts moments before opening. A strong unspoken unity projected into the audience as if from one big family.

Ava Lamkin, graced with the leading role of Mary Poppins, expressed the same sentiment. “My castmates are really sweet. When somebody’s sad, they’re really uplifting. We all just got along really well. It didn’t matter who we were because, once again, Mary Poppins taught us how to be kind.”
Sixth grader Anna Lane, who played a park stroller and a honeybee, shared, “Everyone’s really nice and supportive with each other, trying to help people out with their lines, their makeup, and their hair.” Her first show with Windham Middle School, she’d also done shows with Windham Center Stage, Gorham Arts Alliance, and Schoolhouse. She’d been inspired into acting very young with Mainstage. some of the first timers who’d never been on stage before, Karly Day and Braedyn Bean expressed their experiences. “I’ve had a lot of fun with my friends and I love dancing and singing. It’s just been really cool seeing it all come together,” said Day. All these years, she’d been watching plays, thinking she’d love to be in one and decided to finally try out.

 Braedyn Bean, trying out with some encouragement from his mother, has had a great time. “I might do a lot more plays in the future, but I think it’s good to start and progress.” With the role of a policeman, he had only one line, but he was proud that he had received a speaking part.
Among the many great scenes, we were captivated by the choreography in 

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and impressed with the actors using ASL. Also, be sure to purchase a light-up wand at the concession stand at intermission and join the actors during a special moment of the play! Each purchased wand is used to support Maine Inside Out, a nonprofit organization collaborating to hold theater programs inside Maine’s juvenile correctional facility and youth developmental centers. Truly inspiring!

Another highlight of the night was seeing Mary Poppins fly! Bert, played by Molly Platti, even did front and back flips in mid-air. Flying by Foy is the company responsible for sending characters flying across the stage. Bryce Cropper, the person in charge of ropes, stated, “We double check everything to make sure everything is safe.” This definitely made the show that much more special.
The night ended with much well-earned praise from the audience. “I’m blown away, I really am,” said an audience member on the way out the door. “I would say it was above expectations,” said another. Kim McBride, assistant principal at the middle school, thought “it was fabulous from start to finish.” Proud father Chuck Lomonte shared, “I thought the show was absolutely exhilarating.”

A number of WMS and WHS individuals should be recognized for their time and effort in putting this show together: C.J. Payne (sound and lighting designer), Jason Lanoie (set designer), Tricia Murray (costume designer), April Monte (choreographer), Diane Hancock (music director), Karen Lane (producer), family volunteers working behind the scenes, and many others. Also, understudies worked hard to learn their parts and stood by in case they were needed.

The show, as a whole, was completely enjoyable - “practically perfect in every way!” There really is only one word to describe it: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.