Although there is snow on the ground and the temperature is below normal for the beginning of March, there are signs that spring is nearing. One is the annual high school musical. This year’s production, taking place at the Lowell Performing Arts Center, is Mary Poppins.
Mary Poppins is Amanita Fahrni’s second time taking on the role of Director for the spring musical, after making her debut last year with Little Mermaid. However, she’s no newcomer to the helping out with prior productions, serving as the Assistant Choreographer for Hairspray and Peter Pan as well as Costume Designer for Legally Blonde.
Auditions took place in 2018 with rehearsal beginning after the return to school from Christmas break. Fahrni says, “As the production team watches the final rehearsals, we are astounded to see how these actors have overcome and persevered.” referring to the overabundance of snow days which created an obstacle as cast and crew missed hours of preparation. “Our costumes are ready, props are set, lines are memorized, dance moves are fine tuned, lights are bright, music is conducted, and Mary and Bert are ready to Step in Time!”
Thoughts from the Cast
As final preparations are underway for opening night, some of the cast was kind enough to take time to answer questions. Mary Poppins is played by McKenna Grody who is in her second year performing in the theater program. Last year in Little Mermaid she played a variety of characters including a sailor, jellyfish and princess. Grody enjoys being part of theater to have the opportunity to tell stories in a “fun and entertaining way”. Additionally, she loves the support from fellow cast members, crew, and directors while preparing for the show. “Theater is important for the community and our schools because it provides a sense of joy to our audiences and takes their minds off of whatever they might be going through.” Grody concludes.
Kohl Goldsmith has been involved in high school theater since his freshman year. Some may remember him as Chef Louis, which he says has been his favorite part to play in the 15 productions where he has played a role. The goofy, quirky characters appeal to Goldsmith. In his role as Bert in Mary Poppins, he has been told that his own personality is used to “amplify the goofiness” of the character he plays making it hard to determine where Kohl ends and Bert begins. Goldsmith loves high school theater’s ability to allow students to express creativity to the community. He also enjoys the comradery formed with other cast members as they learn songs and choreography, calling it the best part of the process in theater. “I am ecstatic to show our community what we’ve been up to these last few months, and snow days aplenty regardless, we’re going to give it all we’ve got with a smile on our face and a british accent on our lips.” he says.
The Banks Family Sierra Hieshetter (Michael), Zane Goldsmith (George), Savanna Dempsey (Winifred), and Anna Doyle (Jane).The audience will see Savanna Dempsey in the role of Mrs. Banks. The serious nature of this character is in stark contrast to that of Sebastian, her favorite role to date, she took portrayed in last year’s musical. “The best thing about participating in this production is being able to share the stage with many friends and work with our amazing directors who put so much work into our shows.” she says of being part of this year’s play. Dempsey looks at theater as a way for individuals to express themselves and come out of their shell. Additionally, she has met and worked with some of her best friends over the years while being part of high school productions.
Zane Goldsmith has been part of numerous theater productions throughout his high school career. “Theater is a way to make connections, and have fun with your peers. It’s just a good time! It also helps teach responsibility, and work ethic.” he says. His favorite role to play was that of a “dim guy named Ed” in Subtext. His character is out on a date with a “really smart girl” and throughout the course of the date they form a connection in spite of their differences. In Mary Poppins, the audience will see him take on the role of George Banks. Goldsmith says he’s not like the character he plays at first as he starts off being “strict and unemotional”. However, the two become more alike near the end of the play when George learns from his mistakes and begins to care more about those around him. Goldsmith has enjoyed seeing himself improve as an actor and singer over the years and has had fun making connections with people, some of which he may not have otherwise crossed paths with.
One of the villains of the show is played by Gwendolyn Hackett. She takes on Miss Andrew, the two sharing a large and loud personality. She says both she and the character she plays are often heard before seen. Hackett has been a part of the musical for all four of her high school years, starting off her freshman year in the pit playing the flute. Her favorite role during her time in musical theater was playing Grandmaster Chad, a Jamaican rapping frat boy, in Legally Blonde. Hackett loves taking the stage with friends. Some she has been performing with since elementary school. “Theater is so important for high school youth because it gives us a new family and a place to call home.” echoing thoughts of her fellow cast mates. “When I am low and just beat up by the day, my friends pick me up and I leave all of my worries behind and focus on channeling my character and telling the story as well as I can.” she says of why theater is important to her.
Break a Leg!
Excitement has been building for this year’s Lowell High School musical production of Mary Poppins. The community is invited to share the experience of characters on stage as they bring a story to life and draw those in who are watching. Students have put countless hours of work into the production whether their role is under the lights, behind the curtain, or running the lights and sound. Adults have supported these students through being part of the production in some form or as a parent or relative.
All who are involved are eager to bring Mary Poppins to the stage of the Lowell Performing Arts Center located at 11700 Vergennes. Advance tickets can be purchased for $10 online. Tickets will also be available at the door for $12 provided the show does not sell out. Shows will take place March 8th at 7pm, 9th at 7pm, 10th at 2pm, 15th at 7pm, and 16th at 7pm!
All photos courtesy of Lowell Performing Arts Center and used with permission.