LINDEN — The lead actor in this weekend’s production of “Mary Poppins” at North Montgomery High School hails from Danville, Illinois, the hometown of small-screen “Poppins” star Dick Van Dyke.
“Everyone from Danville knows and loves Dick Van Dyke,” said senior Emily Brewer, who delivers the final performance of her high school career as the magical nanny who lands on the doorstep of a dysfunctional British family.
The musical opens at 7:30 p.m. today in the school auditorium. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. There will be no curtain time on Saturday this year. Sarah Kavanagh is the director.
Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased at the door or online at bit.ly/nmfinearts.
Based on the Broadway musical adapted from the “Mary Poppins” children’s books and 1964 Disney film starring Julie Andrews and Van Dyke, the show follows the lives of the Banks family, which is searching for another nanny to watch the misbehaved children, Jane and Michael.
When the children write an advertisement for their dream nanny, their father, George, throws the paper into the fireplace, moments before a gust of wind delivers the umbrella-toting Poppins to the house.
“Just bringing her to life has been awesome,” Brewer said before taking the stage in a rehearsal.
To give Poppins her magical powers, families of cast members, including the Davis and Odle families, designed a “self-fixing” collapsing table, a broken oven and other props. Some of the costumes were also made by hand.
“The fun magic from the movie is transformed to the stage,” co-director Mike Melvin said.
The show features brand-new music and original classics from “Cherry Tree Lane” to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” North Montgomery’s traditional orchestra consisting of students and staff members perform during the show.
When senior Brian Bone, who plays Poppins friend, Bert, saw a black-and-white version of the show, he was drawn to Bert’s personality.
“If I ever went on Broadway, I’d want to do a character like that,” said Bone, another veteran of the North stage.
Portrayed in the musical as a perfect everyman, Bone said he gives the song-and-dance man a ditzy personality, capped off by displays of emotion as the show progresses.
“It’s interesting to see that dynamic,” Bone said.
Several actors making their first appearance in a high school musical join the seniors in the 30-member cast.
Freshman Alecsandra Baldwin, who plays the Banks family’s cook, Mrs. Brill, was active in Northridge Middle School’s theatre program. She also played in “The Sound of Music” at the Vanity Theatre.
“I really enjoy being on stage. It’s a real stress-reliever for me,” Baldwin said.