Final week of Mary Poppins, tickets 90% sold

Mary Poppins 2018

“They have simply outdone themselves once again.” This was the word that had gone abroad about the current Three Hills Arts Academy production of “Mary Poppins” and it hadn’t even opened yet!

Opening night could rightly be called “sold out” and if word of mouth travels as quickly and efficiently as I suspect it has, “Sold out” may apply for the rest of the performances May 31 to June 3.

But take heart, and if you have not already bought your ticket or want to see it another time, try right away to find a space by going to www.threehillsarts.com

Now while some may find it hard to believe, if I say that I am at a loss for words, it is not because I can’t think of anything to say, so much as I can’t decide which superlatives to use to describe this experience.

First of all, I will begin by emphasizing that this show is billed as “a production of Disney and Cameron Macintosh”. This means that it does not follow exactly what some will remember from the Disney movie. It means that some things are missing but there are some “new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drew.”

It also means that there are of necessity some “special effects” that could only be done in film, but on the other hand, Director Sammantha Reinhardt, and her crew, have produced some amazing magic.

The story is probably known by everyone, but for me I had not seen any production of it since I saw the movie version in 1964 and so having the tale unfold from the beginning to the end was kind of special. For me, the actors (cast of 36) were so very suited to their parts and some of them switching their characters two or three times. The energy from each one, the sense of their enjoying themselves communicated so much to the audience.

Several of the actors have had prominent roles in previous productions, and regular patrons will recognize the names of the following: Luke Reinhardt is Bert, Floyd Cotton is George Banks, Jonquil Thiessen is Winnifred Banks, Tina Harback as Mrs. Brill, Max Harback is Robertson Ay, Tiffany Dietz is the “nanny” Miss Andrews and Brad Harback is the Bank Chairman. Louise Nelson seemed to be the perfect “Bird Woman” and Don Nelson the perfect Northbrook.

Kaitlynn Kern has been in other Arts Academy productions but not in what would be considered a “leading role”. Now she stars as Mary Poppins and shines brightly in her acting, singing and dancing.

The role of Jane and Michael Banks is quite demanding for the “young actors” and so the parts are divided between Bethany Cullum as Jane and Aleks Thiessen as Michael for one performance and then Casandra Paterson and Zachary Thiessen for the next one.

I had heard that “Step in Time” was going to “wow me” and indeed it did. Several numbers included some very fancy footwork and singing at the same time, but “Step in Time” must come close to being a show stopper. Alyssa Adkins is to be commended for the Choreography and every one of the performers on the stage, for that number, excelled in precision and sheer enjoyment. They looked like they had been doing it for years. They probably will continue to be doing the steps in their sleep for months to come.

I usually commend or at least recognize the importance of the technicians and stage crew. This production depended on some very well co-ordinated timing and lots of energy as there were several scene changes and the set pieces were somewhat large but very cleverly designed to serve more than one function. It was the actors who were involved in quick changes, sometimes it seemed both for the set furniture and costumes.

Costumes were another bit of ‘special’ and under the direction of Tina Harback they seemed to ‘fit’ perfectly. Perhaps it was because of the novelty of it, or because I did a disguise once as a “store dummy” but I appreciated the costumes and portrayal of the park statues. (And I am sure I guffawed out loud at a line about someone “losing his marbles”.)

So, far from being at a loss for words, now I am going to choose to resist going on at any greater length to describe or hint at the many surprises and delights that this production presents, and simply urge again that if you have not already got a ticket that you take immediate action to correct that situation.