It’s been over 50 years since Mary Poppins burst onto movie theatre screens back in 1964, but she hasn’t aged a bit.
Mary Poppins is still as smart, pretty, talented, unpredictable and mysterious as ever.
The timeless story, incredible songs, and heartwarming message of the importance of family bonds has kept Mary Poppins in the spotlight for decades.
This week (May 10 to 12), students at Prairie View School in Dalmeny are breathing life into this classic children’s story. Under the direction of teacher Scott Burant and a team of teachers and parent volunteers, the cast and crew of 63 students in Grades 2 through 6 have worked like little beavers for the last four months polishing up this gem of a musical production.
And boy, does it shine. Watching these kids on stage, you forget how old, or rather, how young, they really are.
The school pulls out all the stops to stage a musical every two years.
“It’s all extra-curricular activity,” said Prairie View School Principal Janice Key. “The kids have to keep up their grades and do their school work. All the practices are done during lunch hours and after school. It’s a big commitment, but they really work hard and it shows.”
Executive-Producer Scott Burant, a veteran of several of these school productions over the years, says each one is special.
“You never know which kids are going to come out of the woodwork and shine,” said Burant. “We have a lot of kids that are in each one, and there’s some incredibly talented youngsters. But everybody is part of the team, and we need them all.”
The title role is played by Kylie Wiens, who seems to have channelled Julie Andrews to perfection. She’s saucy and sweet at the same time; a no-nonsense nanny who recognizes and celebrates the innocence of childhood.
Domanik Wiens charms the audience with his portrayal of Bert (the character played by Dick Van Dyke in the Walt Disney movie). The scene of Bert and Mary dressed to the nines in their 1890s duds and singing “It’s a Jolly Holiday with Mary” is beyond priceless.
All the other classic songs are in there as well, like “Spoonsful of sugar,” “Chim-Chiminey Cher-oo,” and “Let’s go fly a kite,” among others. Hard not to hum along, really.
Jane and Michael Banks are played by Gabriella McNeil and Tayte Trevors with a totally natural style. You’d think they really were sister and brother with the chemistry they have together on stage. Their parents, George and Winifred Banks, are played with a straight-laced dignity by Claire Hershmiller and Damara Wiens.
The actors on stage have their lines, their movements, and their mannerisms nailed. Likewise, the crew behind the lights and sound are right on the money.
The kids didn’t do it on their own, of course. The adults on the team are amazing coaches: Producer Lesa Heath, Drama Director Dawn Irwin-Burant, Music Director Danielle Wiens and Stage Manager Elyse Dreger.
For those of us who were kids in the 1960s, this show will bring back fond memories of those years, and the original Disney movie. For anybody of a slightly-less vintage age, it’s a fresh take on an enduring classic.
Mary Poppins Jr. runs Thursday, May 10 through Saturday, May 12 at Prairie View School. Call the school for tickets quick before they’re all gone.