Oakton High School
What's one to do when the children are constantly misbehaving, the servants are going mad, and all the babysitters are dropping like flies? Well, have no fear; everyone's favorite flying nanny is here! Mary Poppins has touched down on stage at Thomas Jefferson High School in a production that's practically perfect in every way.
A perfect blend between the writings of P.L. Travers and the 1964 major motion picture from Disney, Mary Poppins is a classic piece of musical extravagance. With a spellbinding score composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with original dialogue by Julian Fellowes, Mary Poppins underwent 2,619 performances on Broadway over the course of seven years and has received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, and winning the award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical in 2007.
The story takes us on a journey through the lives of Jane and Michael Banks, the two terrors of Cherry Tree Lane who have a reputation for being mischievous and troublesome. Their diffident mother and caviling father, Winifred and George Banks, are driven insane by their children's tendency to drive out any and every nanny that comes to stay with them. It is only when all hope seems lost for the Banks family that Mary Poppins appears, quite literally out of thin air, to bring magic and awe-inspiring wonder into their lives…and all it takes is a spoonful of sugar.
Olympia Hatzilambrou left the audience astounded whilst bringing her role of Mary Poppins to life. Her spirited vocal performance and quick wit added incredible vitality and heart throughout the entire production, which was showcased in such hit songs as "Practically Perfect" and "A Spoonful of Sugar". In addition to her stellar vocals, Hatzilambrou played extremely well off her male counterpart, Bert (Joshua Mutterperl), whose sunny disposition brightened the room every time he appeared onstage. Mutterperl established himself as an alluring presence early on with explosive physicality, charismatic mannerisms, and punctual comedic timing. His songs "Step in Time" and "Prologue" truly captured the essence of the lovable chimney sweep we've all come to know so well. Other notable performances included that of Jane Banks (Valerie Nayak), whose bratty yet curious nature brought her character to life with bright and precocious idiosyncrasies as she discovered the world around her alongside her new nanny. Her little brother, Michael Banks (Anyesha Majumdar) had a bubbly attitude that she held consistently for her entire performance. Majumdar's child-like innocence and amusing remarks left the audience in stiches.
The orchestra, or the Poppins Pit, conducted by Ms. Jennifer Matthews, equipped the actors with a mighty musical commentary whose impeccable rhythm rivaled that of a professional symphony. The Poppins Pit offered immaculate precision that never failed to sync up perfectly with the vocal performers whilst also maintaining buoyant sound that truly submerged the audience into an enchanting trance. The special effects, (Avi Urbach), provided a similar sense of wonder. After a hysterical yet clumsy Robertson Ay (Anthony Murphy-Neilson) stumbled into two china cabinets and a table, breaking all of it, Mary Poppins magically restored all the damage with a simple snap of her fingers and a flick of her wrist.
Mary Poppins is a spellbinding excursion that reminds audience members what it's like to be a kid. Both an audibly and visually spectacular musical, it encourages all to laugh and ponder as you revel in the fact that "Anything Can Happen if You Let It!"
Oakton High School
"Anything can happen—it's official!" Whether it's statues come to life, sweet shops that sell words, or nannies who can fly, "you can choose the super or the superficial" at 17 Cherry Tree Lane. With robust musical performances and stunning visual elements, Thomas Jefferson High School chose the super in their vivacious production of Mary Poppins.
With a book by Julian Fellowes and music by the Sherman brothers, Mary Poppins fuses together elements of the P.L. Travers children's books and the wildly popular 1964 Disney film. The show originally opened in London's West End in 2004, and the subsequent 2006 Broadway production went on to garner seven Tony award nominations and a whopping 2,619-performance run. The beloved tale focuses on the mischievous, spoiled Banks children who run out nanny after nanny with their antics. Parents Winifred and George are equally troubled, but the family's luck changes with a change of the wind that blows in the enigmatic Mary Poppins. With a spoonful of sugar and a whole dose of moral lessons up her sleeve, Mary Poppins brings laughter, learning, and love to Cherry Tree Lane.
"Uncanny nannies are hard to find," and it's even harder to find an actress with the vocal prowess and commanding presence required of Mary Poppins. Olympia Hatzilambrou more than delivered. Her powerful operatic singing was as "practically perfect" as the song suggests, and her vocal characterization when speaking captured her "prim and proper and never too stern" nature. As the charismatic, jack-of-all-trades Bert, Joshua Mutterperl was as versatile and charming as his character. His consistent Cockney accent, solid vocals, and impressive tap dancing in the high-energy "Step in Time" showed off his variety of strengths. Whether a chimney sweep or a beret-wearing artist, Mutterperl was always engaged and expressive.
Jane and Michael Banks (Valerie Nayak and Anyesha Majumdar respectively) were energetic and endearing as they transformed from bratty to sweet. Their chemistry created a spirited and entertaining sibling dynamic. Louise Hicks was genuine and gentle as the caring Winifred, her soothing voice making "Being Mrs. Banks" a delight. Evan Strong portrayed George's arc from distant father to loving family man with aplomb. Other standouts included the Bird Woman (Miranda Khoury) for her melancholic vocals and the household staff Mrs. Brill (Madelyn Khoury) and Roberston Ay (Anthony Murphy-Neilson) for their comedic timing.
A boisterous ensemble made the famed "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" as majestic and fun as it's known for. Vibrant lighting by Pablo McFarlane and Natalie Chin further enhanced the whimsical feeling of the song with a cyclorama that flashed rainbow. Psychedelically swirling lights also created Mary's "magic." Although scene changes were occasionally long, the set fit the show's period to a tee and the orchestra effectively covered transitions. The Poppins Pit was truly one of the strongest components of the production as they played at a near professional level and seamlessly adapted to the pace of the actors.
"Anything can happen if you let it," and Thomas Jefferson High School took these words to heart as they "reached for the heavens and got the stars thrown in" in this stellar production. They put their own brand of magic on this classic show to breathe both new life and nostalgia into their fun-filled performance of Mary Poppins.