Loudoun Valley High School
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the only word that comes to mind when thinking about Flint Hill's latest performance. Complete with a legion of chimney sweeps, a bumbling butler, and one extraordinary nanny, this recent production of Mary Poppins was "practically perfect".
Mary Poppins was first conceived in a series of children's books by author P.L. Travers. These books were then adapted into a film by the legendary Walt Disney in 1964. The musical, which opened in 2004, combined classic songs from the movie with original numbers, as well as embellishing the movie storyline with elements from the book. Even though many changes were made, the plot of the musical remains similar to the beloved film: a magical nanny arrives at Cherry Tree Lane to nurture two unruly children and help them reconnect with their distant father.
Bert (Henry Jeanneret) had a wily smile and cheeky personality that made the audience fall in love with him from the moment he entered the stage. His puckish facial expressions and movement punctuated every line and lyric, while his charming cockney accent never failed to amuse. His endless enthusiasm and impressive dancing completely captured the spirit of the charismatic chimney sweep we all know and love. Jeanneret's obvious enthrallment with Mary Poppins (Olivia Hernandez) was further intensified with every flirtatious line and blown kiss.
The spoonful of sugar in Mary Poppins's pocket was not the only sweet thing about her character. Olivia Hernandez whisked the entire cast on the adventure of a lifetime. Her lovely voice shone through in every song, while her whimsical personality pulled the Banks children right into her world of kindness and imagination.
The resident help of Cherry Tree Lane added a bit of comedy to the dramatic lives of the Banks family. Mrs. Brill (Claire Briggs) was full of sass and common sense, while her comically misfortunate co-worker Robertson Ay (Mohammed Badawi) had a variety of hilarious mishaps. Badawi's extended scene of clumsiness and his accidental destruction of the entire kitchen were ridiculously hilarious, while his facial expressions in his kite cameo were simply fantastic. The guest appearance of the haggard old nanny Ms. Andrew (Maya Jaffe) in act two was equally humorous, and the nanny battle that ensued was executed perfectly.
The Banks children, Jane (Whitney McDonnell) and Michael (Liliana Suzuki), may have seemed devilish as they drove away every nanny in London, but they both executed clear character arcs as Mary Poppins taught them how to be a family once again. McDonnell was incredibly convincing as a young girl, maintaining a bratty facade until she reconciled with her father. Winifred Banks (Claudia Wood) contrasted her rambunctious children as she meekly submitted to her husband's demands. Her plaintive voice and mournful expressions gave incredible impact to her song "Being Mrs. Banks".
The ensemble added an element of magic throughout the show as they conducted every scene change, using dance and takes to the audience to make ordinary transitions fun and engaging. Their use of chimney sweep brushes to convey stars in act two was stunning, giving this beautiful scene a further sense of resolution. The song "Step in Time" was brought to life with their energy and clean dance execution.
Filled to the brim with rollicking fun, every moment of Flint Hill School's Mary Poppins was truly a "jolly holiday."
Hayfield Secondary School
For decades, dancing penguins, singing toys, and magic nannies have enraptured audiences in the Sherman Brothers' beloved musical, Mary Poppins. Based on the book by P.L. Traverse and the Disney movie, the musical made its West End debut in 2004 and opened on Broadway in 2006.
The show opens with the disorderly yet uptight household of the Banks family. George and Winifred struggle to keep their children under control and lament at yet another nanny's renouncement of her position because of Jane and Michael's snotty and delinquent behavior. Shortly, however, the charming, assertive, and no-nonsense Mary Poppins makes her arrival, returning order and love to the Banks family with the most unusual methods.
For a high school, Mary Poppins can prove a rather challenging production with difficult technical aspects and a wide range of vocalists required. However, Flint Hill School recent performance was nothing short of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
One reason for Flint Hill's excellent production was their committed and engaging ensemble. Each member showed excitement to be on stage, adding to the overall energy of the show.
Additionally, the thespians' vocals carried the show with consistency and skill. Most notable was Henry Jeanneret who portrayed the role of Bert with a rich voice complemented by his practically flawless cockney accent.
Mary Poppins would not be the family-friendly and fun-loving show that it is without its iconic hilarity. Mohammed Badawi who played Robertson Ay, a clumsy butler in the Banks home, proved to be one of the funniest actors on stage. His comedic timing and well-placed ad-libbing created an amusing and enjoyable atmosphere. Even when he was acting in different ensemble roles without lines to carry his comedy, his facial expressions and physicality kept the audience members on their toes to see what he would do next.
Above all, the themes presented in Mary Poppins are what give the story credibility and endearment. The cast of Flint Hills's Mary Poppins put on a superb show that captured those motifs, which was their greatest accomplishment. The chemistry of the actors on stage and the commitment of each student to the show ultimately helped to highlight the real meaning and importance of family and the idea that anything can happen if you let it.