Theatrical performances, whether small or large tend to be very involved. Casting calls, auditions, set and costume designs, then months of rehearsals are just of few of the elements that make up a successful performance. Well, it’s clear that Children’s Theatre of Charlotte tossed all the right ingredients into the mixing bowl while cooking up “Mary Poppins The Broadway Musical” for their 70th season.
Director Michael J. Bobbitt pulled out all the stops to ensure a fresh and energetic show. Considering it’s running time of 2 1/2 hours, this was a smart move. If you want to keep children engaged for more than two seconds, include lots of lively dance routines, and cheerful, catchy songs. Also include Janeta Jackson, a young but seasoned and classically trained actor who is the title character for the first time. It wasn’t hard to keep your eyes on Janeta when she appeared on the doorstep of the Banks’ homes as their new nanny, Mary Poppins. She certainly garnered attention with her beautiful soprano voice, sassy attitude and fancy fits. Not to mention she looks a tad bit different than those traditionally cast.
Costume Designer Ryan J. Moller also aided in her Mary Poppins’ updated look. He incorporated more personality into the attire than had been in other versions, dressing her in warm burgundy early on and bold orange later. And instead of a drab white lace dress with a simple red belt, Moller opted to line the get up with red piping, red roses, and a matching cropped jacket. Even the umbrella had red ruffles.
The set is an impressive skeleton of a two-story Victorian home with lots of interchangeable props. At some point it’s the Banks’ family living room, the kitchen, the children’s bedroom, the gardens, a park, and a rooftop complete with a sooty chimney.
There are many tales told and lessons learned within this one adventure. The children, Jane (Haley Vogel and Lydia Farr) and Michael (Alex Kim and Ryan Campos) are cute but naughty. They’re naughty because they’re vying for their father’s attention. Their father, George, is inattentive because he’s a workaholic. He’s a disconnected workaholic possibly due to his callous childhood nanny Miss Andrew (Olivia Edge) terrorizing him every chance she got. Then, fumbling about in the background is Mrs. Banks attempting to hold her divided family together while ultimately losing herself in the process.
Enter Mary Poppins, quick witted, no nonsense, and ready to whip everyone into shape. Her magic mesmerizes the siblings into submission and scares the servants out of her way. She takes them on a journey that forces them to view life from another point of view. Even Bert (Caleb Ryan Sigmon), the cockney jack-of-all-trades is a little wiser than he looks. Sigmon as Bert compliments Jackson’s Poppins’ quite well. They are both light on their feet during the dance numbers. Jackson previously confessed to being nervous about her tap dance number, but her face was all smiles.
Eventually the Banks’ chaotic lives settle down and each member is transformed for the better. The moral of the story; Anything can happen if you let it.
For more information visit www.ctcharlotte.org.