It was only a matter of time before the Perfect Nanny flew with her umbrella to Spectrum Community School.
Mary Poppins is the high school’s latest production, bringing the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious musical to Spectrum’s theatre. Stagecraft teacher Tim Barss said he was inspired to take on the 1964 Disney film after seeing the Broadway musical on a school trip to New York about seven years ago.
“I remember being kind of indifferent about it because I sort of imagined it was kind of kiddish, but it was by far the best professional production I’ve ever seen,” he said. “As soon as I saw it, I knew that we wanted to do it once it was available for other groups to license.
In October of 2014, Barss got the message from the company in New York that it would be available sometime in the following year.
“It was too late for us to choose for our 2015 show, which was already underway, so we decided that very day that our 2016 show would be Mary Poppins.”
Based on the 1964 Disney film, the musical shows how an enchanting nanny and her chimney sweep friend Bert can cure the misbehaviour of the oft neglected Banks children, Jane and Michael, and teach the importance of family to their cranky father George.
Despite the film’s release nearly 50 years before some of his students were born, Barss said the drama and orchestra classes were familiar with the musical and enthusiastic about bringing it to the Spectrum stage.
“They all knew it and they were all really excited about it,” he said. “This is a huge show, it’s definitely the biggest overall production that I’ve worked on.
“They were rehearsing three days a week at the beginning, and then we stepped that up to four in the new year. Tons and tons of big group numbers. Lots of singing, lots of harmonies, lots of choreography to learn.”
Mary Poppins opened on Feb. 26, and Spectrum has five more performances scheduled, with 7:30 p.m. shows on March 3, 4 and 5, and 2 p.m. matinées on March 5 and 6.
The March 5 matinée will be a special singalong performance, with the lyrics to songs like “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” projected on a screen so the audience can join in.
“I was at a singalong of My Fair Lady in Vancouver and it was a really neat experience,” said Barss. “It was in the back of my mind and I talked to some of the kids and they thought it was a great idea.”
Barss said several of the shows have sold out, with the singalong matinée roughly 60 per cent sold. Due to the popular demand, there may not be tickets available at the door.
Potential attendees are asked to buy their tickets ahead of time through the school (957 Burnside Rd. W.) or call 250-479-8271 and have tickets set aside to be picked up and paid for at the door. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students.