Drama students at Notre Dame High School are staging a classic with Mary Poppins – the production runs Feb. 11th to 13th at the Memorial Centre.
Evening shows are at 7 p.m. and there is a matinee performance as well on Feb. 13th at 1 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and are available at the school office – call 403-342-4800.
Mary Poppins is the lead character in a series of eight children’s books written by P. L. Travers. They focus on an English nanny who is blown by the east wind to 17, Cherry Tree Lane, London and, “Into the Banks’s household to care for their children. Encounters with chimney sweeps, shopkeepers and various adventures follow.”
The books were adapted by Walt Disney in 1964 into a musical film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The first title was published in 1934.
In 2004, Disney Theatrical, in collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh produced a stage musical also called Mary Poppins in the West End theatre.
The stage musical was transferred to Broadway in 2006, where it ran until its closing on March 3, 2013. Another chapter in the story came about last year with the release of Saving Mr. Banks which focused on the story of Travers herself, and her at times reluctant collaboration with Disney over making a film out of the beloved books.
The story has remained enormously popular around the world, said Jennifer Cocolicchio, performing arts teacher at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School, and those universal themes of family and belonging helped make it an appealing option for the school to stage this winter.
In building her own vision for the production, Cocolicchio said she started essentially at the beginning by reading the books.
“I did research into where the story came from, and what kind of originated before the movie as well because it actually goes back quite a bit before that with P.L. Travers,” she explained. “So I also learned about her and about where the story kind of came from, and about her life.”
The musical version is different from the film as well. “They’ve added new songs, taken out others, and changed the order of the scenes,” she said.
As to the enormously, even iconic film, Cocolicchio said that while it’s good to pay homage to the creative minds that went before, it’s also something of a group effort amongst the creative team at Notre Dame High School.
“More people come into the mix, and we start talking about set design and other things – it continues to change and everybody has a creative hand in what it ends up becoming,” she said, adding that the cast itself numbers 40 students.
Meanwhile, the version she chose for the students is a relatively new interpretation.
“It has a huge ensemble in it which is great for our school because we have a huge musical theatre program,” she said. “It’s great when you can find a show that features so many people because there is so much talent amongst our students.” The students have also tackled taking on English accents to add that touch of authenticity to the production.
Overall, it’s been a delightful experience from the start.
“I’ve also really enjoyed the choreography to this show – it has a lot of dancing in it which not all musicals have,” she said.
“The song Step in Time is a big tap number which has been a really fun challenge for all of the students,” she added.
“It’s been a really fun journey.
“I also always hope audiences leave a little bit changed after a production,” she said of what she hopes folks leave the show with. “The message of the show essentially is to really cherish what matters and to see what really is important.”