November 14, 2014 through December 14, 2014, this beloved children’s story comes to life for the first time ever on Civic’s stage. Grand Rapids Civic Theater was only one of six community theaters in the country given the rights to perform Mary Poppins.
The seasoned cast includes Civic alum, Alyssa Bauer who transforms herself from perky wife and mother into the proper, boot and hat wearing nanny, Mary Poppins. Her sweet, yet powerful songs will have you believing that a spoonful of sugar will make the medicine go down. You may recognize her from her previous roles at the Civic including Cinderella in Cinderella, Maria in The Sound of Music, Martha Washington in 1776 and Mary Hatch in A Wonderful Life.
Villainous nanny, Miss Andrews is played to perfection by Allyson Paris, a musical theater and voice teacher at Civic. Miss Andrews is hired to replace a missing Mary Poppins, but her tyrannical discipline style differs greatly from Mary’s sweet disposition. Watch for the funny, yet dramatic “duel” between Mary Poppins and Miss Andrews.
The accomplished and talented William Schutte plays Bert, Mary Poppins’s life-long friend. Schutte’s stage career has taken him around the world. He was also cast in the touring productions of A Chorus Line, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.
His accomplishments extend beyond the stage; for years Schutte has choreographed shows at Civic and has won a number of Grand Awards for his productions. His role in Mary Poppins will return him to the stage where his passion for tap and theater will surely shine.
Set design is another important piece of this spirited musical. Turning Civic Theater into 1900’s London is the work of scenic designer, David Len. Len uses a paintbrush with a four-foot bamboo extension to paint and splatter his way back to Edwardian London. Watching the backdrops come to life is an impressive show in itself.
The dancing penguins from the movie are absent in the play, but there are however statues that come to life. This holds true to the book series, Mary Poppins, written by P. L. Travers.
Auditions for the show were particularly difficult because performers needed to have singing, acting and tap dancing skills; the triple threat. Tap dancing is a bit of a lost art in the new millennium, but who knows, Civic’s four week run of Mary Poppins may just have Grand Rapids residents tap dancing in the streets.
Tickets are available on line at http://www.grct.org/purchasetickets.html or by calling (888) 695-0888. Grand Rapids Civic Theater also offers a number of ticket packages on their website.