Western Canada Theatre, in association with Persephone Theatre, presents Mary Poppins, the tale of a magical nanny in charge of a couple of misbehaved kids and their young siblings, who soon brings adventure and wonder into their lives and the lives of the audience in this musical masterpiece.
Since August, crews have been working to prepare the sets and the more than 200 costumes required for the play. Thirty-five people, from actors to production crew, will be on stage and behind the scenes bringing us this classic story.
For the last three weeks cast and crew have been rehearsing at the WCT building, and will be performing the play at the Sagebrush Theatre here in Kamloops from Nov. 26 to Dec. 8, with special “pay-what-you-can” matinees on Nov. 28 and Dec. 5.
Such a big performance can be daunting for any director, but when the story being brought to life is such a fun, magical one, the excitement is inescapable.
For director Daryl Cloran, the task of leading this play is “giant,” but he’s enjoying every bit of it. Cloran said that the positive response from the community and knowing his two kids will get to experience the magic makes it all worthwhile.
Auditions for the play were held nationwide, in search of a very talented group of actors. As Cloran explains, “not only does everyone have to be a good actor, and a good singer, but there’s giant tap dance sections in this… so everyone has to be a fabulous dancer as well.”
This rendition of the story draws from author P. L. Travers’ book as well as the Disney film, being sure to include all the classic songs and magical scenes we all expect.
Local talent Sarah Baughan and Quintin Clark take lead roles as Jane and Michael Banks, the eldest children in the family, for whom Mary Poppins is responsible.
Having played lead roles in plays such as Les Misérables and having almost 20 years of experience as an actress, Diana Stradnyk was an obvious choice for the role of Mary Poppins herself.
But even for an experienced actress, the role is no cake walk. “It’s very dense to play [Mary Poppins],” Stradnyk said. “Not only is it vocally demanding, because of the music, but because of the magic there’s so many technical things that you have to learn… my brain feels like it’s going to explode most days.”
All magic and acting aside, Stradnyk thinks that anyone who works with children deserves a lot of respect. In the show you see good nannies and bad nannies, and there are lot of parallels to life offstage.
“Being able to be a good nanny who is loved and is fun, and a positive influence for the kids is very special,” Stradnyk said.
A small number of the cast ran through one of the scenes in the play for a small group last Tuesday at the WCT. And even without the help of lights, tap dancers or even a full cast, there was every bit of magic that one expects from Mary Poppins.
With music, dancing and of course a little magic, the play is sure to entertain the audience here in Kamloops, whether you’ve seen the film or not.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance at the Kamloops Live website or on the evening of the event at the Sagebrush Theatre.