Alexandria City School
The feeling one gets from having "a spoonful of sugar" explains the immense pick-me-up that is given when viewing Independence High School's first official spring musical production "Mary Poppins".
"Mary Poppins" tells the story of the Banks, a London family with two rambunctious children, Jane and Michael. They seem to drive every nanny away, but wish for one who is fun and exciting. Suddenly, an eccentric lady named Mary Poppins turns the Banks' household upside down and fulfills the role of their nanny.
Katie Phillips as Mary Poppins was "practically perfect in every way," with Broadway-level vocals and amazing characterization. Phillips embodied the role of Mary Poppins, keeping the audience immersed in the magical ambiance of the show. With every song Phillips was in, whether as the lead or ensemble, Phillips carried it with poise and precision, with every note hit flawlessly.
While Mary Poppins incontestably dominated the show, it was only strengthened by the impressive performances given by its supporting cast. The dynamic duo of Jane and Michael, played by Allison Clark and Hailey Suh, had great brother and sister chemistry throughout the show and strong, consistent vocals to match. To finish up the Banks family was Mr. and Mrs. Banks, portrayed by Max Layman and Jenna Moser. Both had spectacular vocals showcased through solos like "Good for Nothing" and "Being Mrs. Banks (Reprise)," and were able to depict their characters with complexities, such as Mr. Banks having the exterior of seriousness whilst having slight child-like qualities shown through Layman's great sense of comedic timing. The family blended well together and had great stage chemistry.
The multiple ensemble casts throughout the show blew the audience away with the way they executed intricate choreography. Many doubled as running crew as well. They filled the stage with presence and energy, and the bigger numbers like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and "Step in Time" let ensemble members showcase their talents to the highest degree.
The multiple moving parts of this production should not go unsaid, specifically, the student-built sets done by Bella Purucker, Zach Khan, Allie Harris, and Addi Cope. With every new scene, there was a new set to go along with it, and the transition from one set to another was practically perfect. It can be very easy for a show with as many sets as this one to have become chaotic, but every transition was smooth and seamless with little to no distractions. The lighting, done by Gavin Greygor, Jacob Foggi, and Connor Gosman, illuminated the show in every way, making each individual scene pop with such bright colors. This was ultimately all possible due to the incredible stage management team of Julie Simanski, Mckenna Riolo, Sayje Jaffe, and Hannah Macmillan, who had to keep the show organized, and cue for lights, sound, and movements of sets to keep them on time and harmonious.
For a school's first on-stage musical production, they have met and even exceeded expectations. Independence High School's production of "Mary Poppins" can only be described as one extremely long word: "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" Audiences should be truly excited to see what this high school will put out next!
Quince Orchard High School
Independence High School proved to us that anything can happen if you let it with their production of Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins was originally a novel in a series of children's books written by P.L. Travers in 1934. It tells the story of a family in England whose rowdy children have gone through nanny after nanny, when Mary Poppins, a practically perfect magical woman, appears to help them. Independence High School took this story to a new level with incredible special effects, talented actors, and a captivating story.
Katie Phillips was born to play the role of Mary Poppins. Her crystal-clear vocal tones and the proper air she had about her transported the audience into a different time and place and drew them into the story. Max Layman as George Banks exhibited an incredible depth of character and versatility. He conveyed many sides to his character, showing a strict and emotionally distant father while revealing the trauma of his own childhood later in the show. Jenna Moser as Winifred Banks demonstrated excellent character development, clearly shifting her character over the course of the show from a woman attempting to fulfill the role of a traditional housewife to a woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself and her family. As an ensemble, the Banks family had dazzling harmonies that highlighted the excellent group dynamic that made them feel like a family unit.
During "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," the entire ensemble of Mary Poppins brought a new level of energy onto the stage with dazzling lighting and synchronized dancing, complete with a different motion for every letter of the incredibly long word. The running crew also moved the many large and complex set pieces at an unbelievable speed, demonstrating how important efficiency and skill are behind the scenes as well as on the stage.
Independence High School also had fantastic special effects (led by Siri Bommini and Paul Hartmann), such as a kite suspended over the audience and an actor popping out of a very small dollhouse. A fly system was used several times which allowed actors to float across the stage. All of these special effects added a sense of magic to the production and amazed the audience.
Overall, Independence High School's production of Mary Poppins created a sense of awe and wonder in the audience through the magic the company created on stage.