‘Mary Poppins’ soars above the rest

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The cast of “Mary Poppins” performs “Step in Time”

The Spring Valley theatre department soared to new heights with their production of “Mary Poppins.” With colorful sets that paint a dreamy picture of a Disney-esque London and costume designs that look like they were ripped from the screen, the school’s third-ever musical captured the wonder and joy of seeing magic unfold before your eyes! 

The play follows the Banks family as they filter through nanny after nanny for their rambunctious children, Jane (Sonthana Litzkow) and Michael (Kary Reeve). One day, the mysterious Mary Poppins (Nicole Fonts-Garcia) lands on their doorstep with a spoonful of sugar and a solution to all their problems. The Banks children and Mary are accompanied by the energetic chimney-sweep, Bert (Hector Nunez), as they explore Cherry Tree Lane, London and themselves. 

While watching the production, it’s evident that a lot of time and care went into its creation. Fonts-Garcia and Nunez studied their characters’ mannerisms intensely and brought the respective enigmatic poise to Mary and exuberant charisma to Bert, making them perfect fits for the roles. As for the Banks family, Litzkow and Reeve have become pros at portraying rowdy children, and their chemistry garnered laughs and smiles from the audience. Kyle Cooper and Isabel Hillers, who play George and Winifred Banks respectively, also captured the “precision and order” their characters would suggest. Overall, there wasn’t a weak link in the cast.

As for individual performances, “Practically Perfect” and “Jolly Holiday” demonstrated the talent of the show’s leads. The large ensemble performances –– which were the show’s strength –– such as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Step in Time,” garnered thunderous applause and cheers from the audience, as the actors and dancers delivered stunning choreography with a smile. 

The atmosphere of the theater, from the kites lining the walls to the spinning set and bright backdrops, added to the experience. And the costumes looked like they came straight from the movie, deserving praise in and of themselves. 

That being said, the show wasn’t without technical difficulties. The microphones occasionally faltered, making it hard to catch certain lines. Especially during the second act, it seemed as if Mary’s voice had gone fuzzy, though this will likely be fixed in future productions. The actors’ accents also wavered from time to time, bringing one of the few reminders that we weren’t watching a show performed by Londoners. 

The vocal work could’ve also used a bit of work. Instead of focusing on the volume of their voices, some actors should’ve worked on their tone and pitch. Though it’s difficult to sing with a fake accent while dancing (or flying) around the stage, the pitchiness can sometimes break the facade of “practical perfection.” Additionally, Fonts-Garcia and Nunez were almost too good in their roles, as the show seemed slightly lackluster and dawdling when they weren’t performing a sweeping musical number on-stage.

Despite a few minor drawbacks, the show certainly dazzled, and it was often difficult to remember that I wasn’t sitting in a Smith Center production of “Mary Poppins.” This production makes for one spectacularly “jolly holiday,” as it was packed with energy and fun. The Spring Valley theatre department gets better with each new performance, and students should look forward to seeing what they’ll have in store for us next year!