Summer Rep’s ‘Mary Poppins’ debuts July 18
By DANIEL WINNINGHAM
Enquirer Democrat managing editor
The Summer Repertory Theatre will present “Mary Poppins” seven times over two weekends later this month.
Performances are Thursday through Saturday, July 18 to 20, and Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27, at 7:30 p.m., as well as Sundays, July 21 and 28, both at 2 p.m.
Jami-Lynn Lewis, Summer Repertory Theatre board member, and director of “Mary Poppins,” recently discussed the upcoming performance.
Auditions for this summer’s production were the end of April and the beginning of May. This spring, there were two nights of open auditions, plus two nights of call backs.
“We don’t call everyone back, just principal roles, and then the next week we start rehearsals,” Lynn said. “We start with reading the script, and then we start rehearsals.
Blocking, which involves determining where a character is during a scene and what they’ve doing, and choreography, are early parts of the rehearsal process.
“I meet with the choreographer and say, ‘These are the songs that we need choreography to,’ and then the choreographer starts working on that,” Lewis said.
“Generally, right away we start on vocals, which is singing of the songs,” Lewis said. “After a few weeks, we start putting those pieces together on stage.”
How is it similar and different from the original “Mary Poppins”?
“The characters are similar in the original (Disney) Mary Poppins and the broadway version,” Lewis said. “The broadway version is different from the movie. Songs are different. There’s that underlying theme that’s there, and even some of the cast members would say in rehearsals, ‘What about this?’ and I’d say, ‘That was in the movie, that’s not in Broadway.’”
“In the movie, Mrs. Banks is very politically motivated,” she said. “She’s fighting for women’s rights and that’s not in this show. Another difference is people kept asking about the penguins. The penguins aren’t in the Broadway show. But so many people asked, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ We added the penguins.”
The show has 63 cast members.
“The board chooses the production,” she said. “We spend months (on that). We will start deciding when this show is over within the next couple months. We’ll start talking and deciding on what show we want to do next year. We’ll put it out to our Summer Rep family and get suggestions on Facebook, and we always look for family friendly. One of the things the board has decided within the last few years is to choose more popular, not necessarily Disney but that’s kind of where we’ve gone, but more popular shows. This is an old show, but “Mary Poppins Returns” came to the theater (recently, in 2018), so there was some hype with Mary Poppins. We do that because we want the community to come and see it but we also want the community who is interested in theatre to come and be a part of it. What we’ve found in years past was that if it’s a show that nobody comes or they’re not a little familiar with, there’s less interest.”
No matter the interest level, Lewis stresses that those with a love for theatre are welcome to be part of the show.
“Whether they want to be in the production, whether they want to help back stage or just want to come and see it,” she said.
Lynn detailed the scheduling challenges of the summer show.
“Scheduling is always a challenge,” Lewis said. “Whether it’s scheduling choreography and vocals and blocking. Not just within the show, but we have kids, we have adults who have full-time jobs, part-time jobs, or they are still in school in May when we start rehearsals. Scheduling with them, we have to do our best to get it done so they can let work know and make arrangements, especially to be off for the weekends of the show.
Read the full story in the 7-11-19 edition of the Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat.
Carlinville area residents involved with this year’s Summer Repertory production of Mary Poppins are, front row, from left, Makenna Conlee, Genevieve Emery, Addie Yeager and Leona Eaves; second row, Thekla Cooper, Riley Ambrose, Izak Spicer and Weston Cooper; third row, Hadley Dugan, Josie Thompson, Hailey Harris and Harry Yeager; fourth row, Maggie Phelps, Maizie Harris and Cara Winningham; fifth row, Lauren Summers, Lissa Bennett, Lucus Wieties; and back, Jefferey Gosnell, Lori Brown, Kelly Taylor-Wilson and Bill Keagy. Tickets for the upcoming shows may be purchased at the door, CNB Bank & Trust, Carlinville Public Library and online at blackburnsummerrep.org. Opening night, July 18, is pay what you can at the door. Photo submitted.