Magic abounds on stage when the Cheshire High School drama club’s production of “Mary Poppins,” takes flight Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the high school’s Thorp Auditorium.
“When I picked this play, I had no idea it would require so much magic,” said Director Dawn DeMeo, a CHS English teacher and veteran director of the school’s musicals for more than a decade. “Yes, we decided to fly,” she said.
A professional theatrical flying group, Flying by Foy, was hired for the job. The company has helped hundreds of performers get airborne, including big names such as Britney Spears, David Bowie and Howard Stern. It has contracted for countless theater productions including “The Lion King,” and “An American Idiot,” along with multiple “Peter Pan” productions.
Flying instructor, Bobby Wilcox, came to Cheshire to stay with the cast and crew each day and through performances. Wilcox said he’s lost count of how many productions of “Mary Poppins” he has flown, according to DeMeo.
The play is a blend of the well-known Walt Disney film of the same name, and the original book series from British author P.L. Travers.
Thomas Mueller plays Bert the sweep and is one of the actors who “flies” in the production. The student said he had no fear about the flying aspects of his performance and called the experience “amazing.”
It took an impressive amount of work to get the Cheshire version off the ground, DeMeo said and staging the flying stunts required the magic of fundraising.
“It was a big challenge to raise the funds,” she said.
The troupe planned bakes sales and other fundraisers including an event called “Broadway Bucket List” held at the Waverly Restaurant. The night consisted of Broadway songs, performances and performers, including Marissa Perry (Hairspray) and Kimberly Hestor (The Producers).
While the flying is a great addition, it’s not all the play has to offer. DeMeo said, “I won’t reveal it, but there is a lot of magic in the show. Lots of ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ moments.”
She notes the play is “a different Mary Poppins than the movie. It might surprise people,” she said.
The leads in the Cheshire High production are seniors Julia Torok as Mary Poppins, Isabella (Izzy) Riccio as Miss Andrews and Adam Majewski as Mr. Banks. The two Banks children, Michael and Jane, are played by Luke Adie, and Mollie DeMeo, the niece of the director.
Torok gave her take on her character and described Mary Poppins as “her own force of nature. A good force of nature. She is very strong, firm, sharp, but clever and kind.”
Torok said her favorite part about Mary Poppins was “the power she has to make a positive difference in others. She finds a way to change someone’s life for the better. She teaches everyone she meets, and makes clear what is important in life...It’s that family matters over all else.”
The play is for all ages and it’s a lot of fun with all the singing and dancing, DeMeo said. Well-known favorite musical pieces include “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “A Spoonful of Sugar.”
While the audience will be enthralled by the flying, Mueller said he believes they will get caught up in the real magic of the play, which is “a special magic, that of the bond that’s created between the actors on stage and the audience,” he said.
“Mary Poppins” plays March 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.tinyurl.com/CHSmarypoppins. Leftovers will be sold at the door.
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