‘Mary Poppins’ soars at David Douglas High

Discover why tickets are selling briskly, as word gets out about this colorful, energetic and well-performed musical show …

Music Director and conductor Jennifer Brooks-Muller gives the David Douglas High Orchestra a down stroke, to start the overture, as a performance of MARY POPPINS gets underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

In the Horner Auditorium at David Douglas High School (DDHS), on Friday evening, November 11, the curtain went up on the Performing Arts Department’s fall musical, “MARY POPPINS”.

The show was the first of a two-weekend run of the lively musical play, featuring a cast of 45 performers and a 30-piece orchestra.

After walking into the Banks household, Mary Poppins announces that she’s the nanny for whom they’ve been looking.

The show’s director and DDHS Theater Instructor Michael Givler said that, considering high quality of the student actors, singers, dancers, and musicians who expressed interest in performing MARY POPPINS, the show became an “obvious choice”.

Givler reminded East Portland News that the musical is based on the similarly-titled children’s books by P. L. Travers; and MARY POPPINS was also made into an Oscar-winning 1964 Disney film, featuring Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke as her best friend, Bert. A stage musical version opened in 2004, and played to thousands of audiences until 2013.

The cast performs the first dance number, “Jolly Holiday”.

Mary makes the kids “take their medicine” – but she helps it “go down, in the most delightful way”.

About the story
MARY POPPINS is about a family undergoing “growing pains”, and feeling the pressure of society to conform; the parents are disconnected from their kids, and the kids react with anger, and by acting out.

All principal players provide perform superbly, including members of the dysfunctional Banks family – including the ambitious banker and neglectful father, George, played by Trevor Brummett. ‘Apikale Fouch elegantly plays his downtrodden wife, Winifred, who harasses the maid and bumbling handyman.

The weary housewife laments “Being Mrs. Banks”.

The “spoiled kids” really want a loving family, instead of living in opulence: Jane and Michael are cunningly portrayed by Sarah Muller and Dre Wollrabe.

After a parade of nannies leave the household in disgust, Mary Poppins flies in to answer an employment ad for “The Perfect Nanny”.  As it happened, that hadn’t yet been placed!

A “Birdwoman” in the park helps Mary teach her charges.

As well as being Mary’s best friend, Bert also narrates the story in word and songs – such as “Chim Chim Cher-ee”.

Eliza Fitch wittily and adroitly personifies the miraculous Mary Poppins, as she, and her best friend Bert – superbly played by Mitchell Martin – take the kids on magical adventures, including a romp with a statue of “Neleus” (the show’s principal dancer, Abby Pred) that comes to life.

Mary, with Bert’s help, teaches the kid important life-lessons, using a “Spoon Full of Sugar”. Among the lessons is the importance of generosity, depicted in a touching scene with the town’s “Birdwoman”, emotively played by Sakari Selva.

New nanny, Miss Andrews, brandishes her bottle of “Brimstone and Treacle”.

During the number, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, Mary Poppins flies in to greet the crowd.

When Mary Poppins takes leave, she’s replaced by the wicked Miss Andrews, delightfully played as the show’s character we “love to hate” by Emily Veenstra, who instructs the children with a dose of “Brimstone and Treacle”.

With all of the commotion going on in the Banks’ household, it’s a wonder that Miss Brill, the maid, played by Nicole Westenskow, and a two-left-thumbed handyman Robertson Ay, portrayed by Elmer Torquido, stay on in the place.

In the gingerbread shop of Mrs. Correy (played by Sydney Yelton), shoppers spell out the word that makes those who say it “sound quite precocious”.

Mary and Bert finally find time alone.

  • When George Banks is suspended from his job at the bank, chaos ensues within his household.
  • Will George remain employed, and not be put out into the street?
  • How can the family rid themselves of the evil Miss Andrews?
  • Might Mary Poppins reunite the family?
  • Will Bert finally get a kiss from Mary?

 

During the energetic dance number “Step in Time”, the cast taps and leaps their way across the stage.

Come, and find out the answers to these and other conundrums, in DDHS’ production of MARY POPPINS, and tap your toes to tunes such as “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” – as the stage is filled with colorful dance numbers throughout the show.

“With the guidance of a New York City scenic director, about a half dozen students designed and hand-painted the backdrop,” exclaimed the show’s Technical Director, Molly Stowe. “A crew of 25 student theater technicians are kept very busy, behind the scenes, during the musical.”

You’ll likely sing along, and stand up and cheer, at the finale of MARY POPPINS.

MARY POPPINS runs through November 20
The run of MARY POPPINS continues November 12, and on November 17, 18, and 19, at 7:30 p.m. Or, catch one of the two matinee performances at 2:30 p.m. on November 13 or 20.

Reserve tickets online: CLICK HERE. Or, call the Box Office at (503) 261-8270. The box office is now open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in late afternoon, at the David Douglas High School Horner Performing Arts Center, located at 1400 SE 130th Avenue, 97233 – between SE Stark and Division streets.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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