‘Mary Poppins’ debuts Saturday

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

While the titular nanny appearing on the Dowagiac Middle School stage this weekend may make acts of magic appear as simple as the snap of her fingers, the amount of students working together to pull off the district’s latest musical will be larger than ever.

The student production of “Mary Poppins” will debut at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at the middle school performing arts center. An additional showing will take place the following day at 2 p.m.

Based off the 2004 stage adaptation of the beloved children’s story, the musical tells the story of the magical English nanny Mary Poppins, who literally appears in the home of the Banks family to take charge the couple’s pair of naughty children, Jane and Michael.

The script combines elements of the renowned 1964 Disney film and the original series of children books written by P. L. Travers, so parents and children familiar with the former will be in for some unexpected twists this weekend, said Director Meredith Marrs.

“It’s not the ‘Mary Poppins’ they know, but they will fall in love with it just the same,” Marrs said.

The core cast, comprised of students throughout the local district, has been working on bringing the script to life since January, rehearsing onstage at the performing arts center after school, Marrs said. The director even took a group of the performers to a recent production of the musical at The Round Barn Theatre in Indiana to help them prepare for this weekend’s show, she said.

“It was a great character study for the kids, to allow them to see what their characters will be on stage,” Marrs said.

Pulling off the elaborate amount of effects needed to simulate Poppins’ various miraculous feats on stage, along with the variety of set changes required by the script, has placed a greater focus than ever on the students helping out behind the curtain, Marrs said.

In addition, Band Director Justin Makarewicz will be leading a student-led ensemble in the orchestra pit, and students with the MKSOD Positively Dance troupe will be lending a hand as well, performing a tap-number during the show, Marrs said.

In spite of the technical challenges presented by the production, the students — many of whom have been participating in school musicals since middle school — have all begun to found their groove, and should be on track to knock it out of the park opening night, Marrs said.

A family-friendly affair like always, the director encouraged the entire community to come out and enjoy the shows this weekend.

“You can bring everyone from the grandparents to 5-year-olds and they will all find something to enjoy about the show,” Marrs said.

Tickets for the show cost $7 and can be purchased at the door.

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