Oak Park High School
Submitted for publication to KC Star Online
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN AT SUMMIT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
A woman who uses an umbrella as transportation, dancing chimney sweeps, and dolls that come to life, what do these all have in common? They all appear in Summit Christian Academy's production of MARY POPPINS. Combined with elegance and flair, this production captures the essence of youth and wonder in their performance; and with a little bit of magic, Summit Christian dares us to believe in the unknown and succeeds with excellence.
MARY POPPINS is a Tony award-winning musical with music from the Sherman brothers, along with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The script is written by Julian Fellowes and takes major inspiration from the 1964 iconic movie starring Julie Andrews and the series of books written by P.L. Travers. The West-End production premiered in 2004 and continued onto Broadway in fall of 2006.
The cast is one of the most fun parts of the show, complimenting each other with fun and excitement. Annie Harsch, playing the title character, is the liveliest with her performance. She executes the essence of Mary, a bit of a cold personality with warm intentions, and her phenomenal vibrato within her vocals is stunning. Her performance balances the likes of the male lead, Bert (William Chapman). Chapman's smooth voice with the combination of his superb choreography skills bring entertainment and energy to the show. The Banks family, Jane (Shea Rider), Michael (Matthew Brownlee), Winifred (Mackenzie Madsen), and George (Patrick Simpson), round out the main cast with dynamic performances and excel in showing character growth throughout the performance.
The supporting cast and ensemble play well off of the likes of the main cast, notably Hannah Helms as Mrs. Brill and Hudson Harris as Robertson Ay, who have distinct chemistry that create many successful comedic moments. Other standouts include the Park Keeper (Zack Akeson), the Bird Woman (Grace Filer), and Mrs. Corry (M'racle Bryant Morgan), who each engage the audience in their own ways, whether it be through hilarious screaming, haunting vocals, or elegant dancing.
One of the most entertaining aspects of the performance is the crew, who make transitions fun to watch with their leaps and dancing across the stage while moving set pieces and props. The set, designed by Patrick Simpson, is flexible and creates the scenes of the shows with ease. Another notable feature of the set is the background projections, painted by Alyn Shin and Ryuchi Sato. The projections uniquely compliment the set and tone and are an impressive addition to the production. Other technical components, such as lighting and sound, slide by with little to no issues and exceptionally enhance the performance's quality.
With a stunning cast, captivating crew, and a beautiful set, Summit Christian executes a marvelous performance of MARY POPPINS. Their spectacular production flows smoothly and brilliantly and can be described with only one word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Grain Valley High School
Submitted for publication to Lee's Summit Tribune
PRACTICALLY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY
When a small family's world begins to fall apart, leaving them desperate for precision and order, what is there for them to do? Well, call a magic nanny of course! Chim Chiminey, Chim Chiminey, Chim Chim Cher-ee, MARY POPPINS makes her way to Summit Christian Academy.
MARY POPPINS has rooted herself deep in the world's culture, with the magical nanny soaring on her umbrella and enlightening families for nearly 100 years. The first time Poppins appeared in the Banks household was in the P.L. Travers book series established in 1934. Then, of course, came the beloved Walt Disney film adaptation of 1964. Despite this story's age, the stage adaptation of MARY POPPINS only came to be fairly recently, premiering in 2004. Following the books and film that precede it, MARY POPPINS takes place in Edwardian London, following a family as they are guided in finding strength and light through hardship.
The magical leading lady, Mary Poppins (Annie Harsch), is a woman of poise yet spontaneity, who lends teachings both of discipline and eccentricity to the Banks family. Harsch commands the stage, embracing Poppins' motherly nature, and utilizes her sweet as sugar vocal performance to make each of her moments flourish. Although Poppins brings a joy to the Banks household, she comes at odds with the hard-headed father of the family. George Banks, portrayed by Patrick Simpson, is a high strung man who has lost sight of lightheartedness in life. Simpson is successful in his portrayal of this melancholy character. His inflection and facial expressions compelling the audience to simultaneously sympathize with, yet be frustrated with his character. Poppins' easygoing jack-of-all-trades chum, Bert (William Chapman), tags along in looking after the family, bringing a little more looseness to the table. Chapman proves himself to be a jack-of-all-trades just like his character, flaunting a charming cockney accent, colorful vocals, and lending a hand in directing a portion of the spectacular choreography.
William Chapman and Aliya Finch are the Bert and Mary Poppins of choreography. This duo brought their own flair to classic tunes, achieving astounding feats of sharpness under complexity while still embracing the lightheartedness of MARY POPPINS. An interesting choice Summit Christian Academy makes is the decision to project hand painted scenery, designed by students Alyn Shin and Ryuichi Sato, rather than using full sized backdrops. This ultimately results in creating a charming children's book atmosphere, harmonizing with the playful and effervescent air that follows MARY POPPINS. Lastly, the sound crew in this production showcases excellence. In live theatre, it is near impossible to avoid problems with technology, as there are so many factors that go into each little element. Regardless, this crew exhibits flawlessness and mastery over balancing and unpredictable factors, forever keeping the audience engaged with the scene.
There are moments when transitions become lengthy, but this is easily outweighed by the personality that filled these moments. The stage crew takes on the likenesses of chimney sweeps, merrily prancing across the stage, maintaining the jovial nature of the production while simultaneously changing the scenes.
With charm and splendor, Summit Christian Academy warms audiences' hearts with ease. When you need a way to say exactly what you mean in regards to this beautiful portrayal of the timeless tale of MARY POPPINS, just say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Grain Valley High School
Submitted for publication to The Pitch
A QUITE PRECOCIOUS PERFORMANCE BY SUMMIT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
Featuring magical nannies, tap dancing chimney sweeps, and the infamous word with eighteen consonants and sixteen vowels, you'll want to "Step in Time" to see Summit Christian Academy's production of MARY POPPINS.
Inspired by the 1964 Disney film and the children's books by P.L. Travers, MARY POPPINS is set in Edwardian London with the Banks family. As the frazzled George Banks and his loving wife Winifred Banks struggle between marriage and aspects of adulthood, they also face the challenge of finding, and keeping, a nanny for their mischievous children, Jane and Michael Banks. When the Banks children create an unattainable advertisement for their ideal nanny, George Banks disagrees and throws the list into their fireplace. Without warning, Mary Poppins arrives with the undamaged slip of paper, stating that she is indeed "Practically Perfect". As the children are more familiarized with her, they notice how peculiar of a nanny she is, from bottomless bags to traveling by umbrella. Throughout the show she takes the children on bewildering and exciting adventures, all while teaching them the importance of good behavior.
In Summit Christian Academy's performance, Mary Poppins herself is portrayed by Annie Harsch, who steals the show with her marvelous voice and her expressive acting. Harsch's impressive performance is consistent throughout the entire show, including her English accent and her whimsicality. Her onstage chemistry with William Chapman, who plays the role of Bert, is especially eye-catching and reflects the childlike innocence and playful nature of the show. Chapman fulfills his role as the imaginative and adventuring chimney sweep wonderfully, and his portrayal of Bert making the perfect fit for his partner-in-crime.
Another notable acting duo is Mrs. Brill, portrayed by Hannah Helms, and Robertson Ay, portrayed by Hudson Harris. Helms often uses humorous diction while Harris uses physical humor to depict not only their characters, but also their characters' relationship. The two can make a scene memorable with their comical and animated acting styles, no matter if they are together or apart.
The technical aspects of Summit Christian Academy's MARY POPPINS are guaranteed to make an impression on audiences. A technical design that stands out to many is the projected backdrop paintings done by Alyn Shin and Ryuichi Sato. The color palette, compositions, and even stylized brush strokes add a unique and breathtaking character to the show, contributing to setting the atmosphere of the performance. An interesting detail of the set crew is not only their efficiency, but also that they are costumed and in character for set changes, adding personality between scenes. Lastly, the creative use and design of props under Tate Turner makes the production seem realistic, even the fantastical details, like Mary Poppins' bottomless bag, or the innovative design of the indoor kite that looks as if it could take off.
Ultimately, it'll be a "Jolly Holiday" when you experience Summit Christian Academy's production of MARY POPPINS.