ROCK SPRINGS—The Western Wyoming Community College Performing Arts Department will present Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s “Mary Poppins,” beginning Friday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and continuing Saturday, Nov. 14, and Thursday, Nov. 19 through Saturday, Nov. 21. Special effects and original dance choreography will highlight Western’s production of this family-friendly musical classic, which is based on the stories by P. L. Travers and the 1964 Disney film of the same name.
All evening performances will commence at 7:30 p.m., with one public matinee performance on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased online at wwcc.tix.com. Advance tickets for all shows are selling quickly and sold-out performances are expected. Audiences are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets online in advance rather than waiting to purchase them at the door.
Directed by Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre Chris Will, MFA, “Mary Poppins” tells the story of the magical nanny (Kathy Riedl) who floats in on a cloud and transforms the lives of the entire Banks family. It is a tale that has been loved by generations of readers and film-goers, and, more recently, theatre audiences.
“I first saw the show in London’s West End, and then on Broadway, and finally on the national tour,” Will said. “It was a great show, but it seemed like it was lacking heart. So that’s what I’m trying to do with this production, to create more of the human spirit within the show.”
“Mary Poppins” features songs audiences will recognize from the Disney film, including “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” There are also new songs and dance music that bring to life scenes from the novel that were not seen in the film version. Assistant Professor of Music Joshua R. Wentz, Ph.D., rehearsed the show’s musical numbers with the cast.
Assistant Professor of Technical Theatre Amy Critchfield, MFA, and her creative team readily accepted the challenge of making the considerable and complicated magic of “Mary Poppins” happen onstage, while Dance Instructor and Choreographer Britta Joy Peterson, MFA, created the original dance numbers. Will promised that the results of all of their hard work will sweep the audience off of its feet – not to mention Mary Poppins herself, who will fly – with all of the spectacle and artistry that only live theatre can produce.
For a production of this size and scope, Western’s Department of Performing Arts and Office of Community Relations reached out to local and state sponsors for assistance in bringing Disney, Mackintosh and Travers’s vision to life. Sponsors include: Sweetwater BOCES; RSNB Bank; Sonic – America’s Drive-In; Mountain States Pressure Services, Inc.; and the Wyoming Arts Council, which supported the project with a grant, through funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. Community Relations Director David Tate said the sponsors’ support was essential to the Performing Arts Department’s ability to stage such a complex and ambitious musical extravaganza.
“The fantastic production that audiences are going to see this month would not have been possible were it not for the generous involvement of our sponsors,” Tate said. “This is such a big production, with so many different elements and complicated effects, that it took everyone’s participation to bring it to fruition. We are very thankful to Sweetwater BOCES, RSNB Bank, Sonic, MSPSI, and the Wyoming Arts Council for joining with us to bring ‘Mary Poppins’ to Sweetwater County.”
For “Mary Poppins” star Riedl, a second-year dance and musical theatre major from Cheyenne, portraying the classic character immortalized in the film by Julie Andrews was an intimidating but exciting opportunity.
“The fact that the character of Mary Poppins is so well known has been a challenge,” Riedl admitted. “The stage show is quite different, but the character of Mary Poppins is so iconic that I have to stay true to who she really is, while bringing the acting and singing and dancing together into one believable person.”
Mr. and Mrs. Banks are portrayed in the show, respectively, by Brandon Radosevich, a second-year theatre major from Mountain View, and Sarah Day, a third-year performing arts student from West Valley City, Utah. Radosevich said his role required him not only to search for his character’s motivations but also to look within himself for connections that weren’t immediately apparent.
“I think the reason that this character was so hard for me to engage with was that his personality was opposite from my own,” Radosevich said, adding that Peterson’s choreography helped him with the acting process. “I love the way she made feelings come alive through the movement I was learning.”
Day, who said she was honored to be cast in the role of Mrs. Banks, noted that “Mary Poppins” and other classic movies, music and works of literature still have relevance to young performers today. She encouraged aspiring actors to learn from everything they can.
“There is always something to discover that can help you as an actor,” she said.
Tickets for “Mary Poppins” are $10 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Children under five will not be admitted to evening performances; however, they are welcome to attend the Nov. 21 public matinee performance at 2 p.m. For more information, contact the Performing Arts Office at (307) 382-1721 or visit us online at wwcc.tix.com.
This project is supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, through funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information about WAC, visit them online at wyoarts.state.wy.us.
“Mary Poppins” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI, 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019. Phone: 212-541-4684. Fax: 212-397-4684. www.mtishows.com.