Mount Abe students to present ‘Mary Poppins’ this week

BRISTOL — Transforming words, music, movement, costumes and well-crafted design into a Mount Abraham Union High School fall musical has been an annual undertaking for the past 25 years or so. It depends upon the knowledge, talents and intentions of dozens of community members and parents, and the energies, drive and commitment of a hundred young people — and a storyline that compels and inspires creativity.
“Mary Poppins” — a musical based on stories of P. L. Travers and the Walt Disney film — is this year’s offering, and it totally encompasses all of these contributions. It will be staged at the Bristol school’s auditorium this coming Thursday through Saturday.
Relationships are the “spoonful of sugar” that help make life livable, and the play process depends upon them. The cast, led by Sam Kuhns, Eden Ginsberg, and many others, weaves the up-and-down, familiar and tuneful tale of the Banks family and their progress toward turning their family “right-side up,” making it both enjoyable and thought-provoking as they go. Some of the key performances will also be given by Owein LaBarr, Ade Crosthwait, Louisa Funk, Evan Jennison, Audrey Shahan, Olivia Heath, Casey Ober, Noah Bessette, Patrick Davison, Eli Jensen, Peter McNerney, Isaac Giles, Emily Tardie, Maeve McGuinness, Aidan May, Carley Sherwin, Kai Correll and Justice Westbrook.
The interactions between a large assemblage of adult volunteers — guided by the directing team Andrea Gordon, Martha Chesley and Anne Gleason — frame the scenes, sights and sounds of London in 1910, the workings of English banking, life “below stairs” and on the rooftops, and the development of family life when a bit of magic is interjected — “until the wind changes.”
Among the helpers that make the magic happen are music director Jen Allred; choreographer Tina Coleman; set designer Ben Allred; construction specialists and special effects consultants Paul Stetson Steve Cobb, Ken Labas, Buzz Kuhns and John Crosthwait; costume supervisor Joanne Stetson; painting coordinator Phoebe Doane; and lighting and sound technicians Meyer Bilson and Megan LaRose.
The magic in Mary Poppins exists from the opening scene on to help tell the story. This most-famous nanny changes even the air around her when she walks into a room. Part of her magic is the change she sparks in the other characters, the transformations that result. Their reactions to her magic are just as important as the magic itself. Not only does Mary dazzle the characters’ senses with amazing wonder, she also helps them open their hearts to one another. When pondering how such magical moments come about, consider that the most enchanting outcome is that Mary Poppins gets everyone around her (including the audience) to look at the world differently.
   A SELECTION OF the scores of young people involved in Mount Abe’s production of “Mary Poppins” rehearse on stage recently while many of their peers work on sets, lighting and more behind the scenes. Photo by Buzz Kuhns
On Nov. 17-19, area playgoers will get a chance to experience those magical moments and life-changing relationships that have led this classic story to resonate for decades. It’s a “practically perfect” way to spend time, and Mount Abraham’s theater will be the ideal space to enjoy the journey.
Reserved-seat tickets are available at Martin’s Hardware in Bristol; limited general seating will be available at the door. Admission is adults: $12; those younger than 12 and senior citizens: $8.

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