CTA Promises Practically Perfect Family Entertainment With “Mary Poppins”
“Wanted: A nanny for two adorable children.”
Thus begins Jane and Michael Banks’ advertisement for their perfect caregiver. Fortunately, Children’s Theatre of Annapolis has found her — and she’s flying into town this month. “Mary Poppins,” the popular Disney musical about the adventures of a magical nanny, will run January 15 through 31, captivating the imaginations of audiences with superb musical numbers, dazzling special effect and impressive performances from a cast of more than 30 youth ages 12-18.
Mary Poppins (Ally Baca) arrives on Cherry Tree Lane to serve as the perfect nanny for the Banks children, Jane (Annabelle Cotton) and Michael (Tad Clifton), and although the unruly youngsters are excited to think that the kind but quirky lady might be the perfect fit for their family, they are surprised to learn there’s much more to Mary Poppins than meets the eye … and she has much to teach them. Together with jack-of-all-trades Bert (Austin Dare), Mary takes the Banks children on adventure after adventure, showing them that anything can happen if they let themselves believe.
Many audience members will be surprised to find that the stage adaptation of “Mary Poppins” is different from the film version. “I think it’s important to point out that this play is not the movie,” said director Gerrad Alex Taylor. “It is a completely different story. The songs are different, the characters are different, and just the overall atmosphere of the piece is different.”
Taylor indicated that the writers and the producers of the stage version were trying to return to the original stories by P.L. Travers. “The original Poppins books are not your average bedtime story,” he said. “They appealed to children I think because of the ‘magical moments,’ but they also were grounded in a very matter-of-fact reality.”
To capture that realistic period style in this production, Taylor has worked with the cast in developing the proper diction and manner of Edwardian England, as well as with set and costume designers to recreate the look and feel of the setting. Despite the challenges, Taylor is excited to see it come together. “It has required a lot of preparation and a lot of patience but I think it's going to end up looking really awesome and enjoyable,” he said.
Behind all the spectacle and stagecraft, however, is a story that Taylor hopes will speak to today’s generation of parents and children as much as it did when the film was released and the books before it. “P.L. Travers tackles the questions of ‘What does it mean to be a family? How much can a family take before it breaks? Does true family ever really dissolve?’” he explained. “These are issues that can speak to any generation, young or old. The story of ‘Mary Poppins’ is timeless. Our title character appears out of nowhere and teaches our characters and our audience about these topics.”
Tickets for “Mary Poppins” are selling quickly, so audiences are encouraged to make reservations early. Performances are at 7:30pm on Fridays, 2:00pm and 7:30pm on Saturdays and 2:00pm on Sundays from January 15 through 31. For more information or to order tickets, visit www.childrenstheatreofannapolis.org or call 410-757-ACT1.