EATON — Mary Poppins is flying in to Eaton Community Schools, starting Friday, March 23. The magical nanny will be the focus of the drama department’s Spring Musical, with shows from Friday through Sunday, March 25.
The Friday and Saturday show will be at 7 p.m., with the Sunday show at 2 p.m., all at the Eaton Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $7 at the door, which opens an hour before the show. Seniors will be admitted free with their card.
The very large cast has been working hard under Director Cheryl Mellen’s expert guidance. The kids have been meeting almost every school day from 2:30-6:30 p.m., to be sure they do the great Julie Andrews justice. A task, according to Mellen, at which they’re succeeding.
“We’ve all seen Mary Poppins as children, probably. It is a really unhappy family, who are all trying to be something they’re not and they are not happy about it. Dad is busy with work and thinks his wife should be a certain way. She used to be an actress and is trying to be all proper,” Mellen said.
“The children have not really had good care, they’ve had a lot of nannies and stuff. Then Mary Poppins comes into their world and stirs it up and helps them all find each other. I think it is a fun story for a whole family and it is a good evening. The kids have worked hard and I think they’re going to be very entertained.”
In fact, Mellen says she has been beyond impressed with the students dedication and talent.
“The kids have been fabulous, especially my leads. The last time I worked with kids this professional was probably five years ago, when we did Mattress. A couple of them have went on and majored in Performance. I would say my leads here — clearly Bert or Mary — could do this professionally,” she said.
“They come prepared all the time, they are very supportive and positive, and they work extra hours every free minute they have. They work as great role models for the other kids. It has been a very pleasant group. They have gotten along very well and they are watching what the other kids do to try and rise up to that level.
“We’ve had a lot of laughs and fun, but they work very hard. They know when to be serious and when to get silly. I’m incredibly proud, it has been a very pleasant experience.”
Maybe their dedication stems from their passion for performing arts and this particular story. The actors portraying Mary, Bert, Michael, and Jane all expressed their elation at being able to play these iconic roles.
Senior Mackenzie Rutherford will be portraying Mary Poppins in the musical, with senior Blake Whitesell right beside her as Bert. Children Jane and Michael are portrayed by freshmen Abby Towe and sixth-grader Jude Minton.
“This is one of the biggest productions we have ever done and we are really excited to get to do something that is such a big deal and really get to shine,” Rutherford said. “Julie Andrews is an iconic role and it is hard to top her, but to play a role that she has played is an honor and something that I’ve wanted for awhile. [Whitesell] and I actually did a dance Sophomore year, where we pretended we were Bert and Mary.”
“Dreams come true,” Whitesell added. “Mary Poppins is just such an iconic movie and I know, for me, I grew up watching it and singing to it. When we did this, I loved Bert. I’m glad I auditioned.”
“When I heard we were doing Mary Poppins I was really excited. I wanted to play Jane a lot, but I didn’t think I would get the part. I did and I was really excited,” Towe said. “It is a lot of fun to see so many people up on stage. There are actually so many of us doing this.”
“I just love doing acts and I like Michael,” Minton said. “I think people should come out to see us, because there are some sassy parts and some sassy people up on stage. I’m a very sassy person.”
“We’ve worked so hard and it looks amazing. We’re doing Broadway dances — not many schools get to do that,” Rutherford said. “We’re getting the chance to really show our talent and we have amazing talent – amazing singers, actors, and dancers.”
Whitesell added, “If you want a night that is just totally relaxed and fun, we can assure you that you will leave so happy and singing the songs. You’ll love ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,’ that’s actually a good word to describe the show. Come see us!”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH