photo credit Doug Rawley and Emily Geddes
Mary Poppins by Ridley High School in Folsom, PA
March 21, 2018
Review submitted by Trinity Pike of Upper Merion Area High School
Ridley High School’s production of Mary Poppins was a musical full of “Twists and Turns.” Armed with a “Practically Perfect” cast and crew, talented performers and technical expertise, Ridley High School brought marvelous magic to the iconic classic.
Though Walt Disney brought the musical to fame with his legendary 1964 film, a series of children’s books by P.L. Travers originated the tale. As a combination of the two, Mary Poppins the musical features young siblings Jane and Michael Banks. The pair is a spoonful of adorable, but an armful of mayhem, eliminating dozens of nannies with their misbehavior until their parents discover the most exemplary caretaker: magical Mary Poppins.
Whimsically merging fantasy with reality, the lengthy musical demands incredible cast energy and complicated technical effects. While this often poses a challenge to high school renditions, Ridley’s cast and crew surpassed expectations. From picturesque, animated projections to the brisk swapping of gigantic set pieces, an array of technical elements distinguished the production. An ensemble full of enthusiastic, sharply executed, rapid choreography in over-the-top numbers “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Step In Time” earned roaring cheers from the audience.
Leading the lively cast of quirky characters was Victoria Heppard (Mary Poppins). Playfully poised and compassionately cross, Heppard showcased her wide vocal range with gorgeous, sky-high notes in “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Anything Can Happen (Part 2).” Alongside the magnificent nanny was jack-of-all-trades Benjamin Mergott (Bert). With a precise accent, strong vocals, and natural charm, Mergott brought life to each of his numbers. From his haunting melody in “Prologue” to his show-stopping mid-air spins in “Step in Time,” Mergott masterfully demonstrated his versatility and skill.
Powerful and courageous, motherly Mackenzie Cannon (Winifred Banks) protested the coldness of husband Phillip Impriano (George Banks) with compelling passion. As Impriano evolved, Cannon melodically celebrated his kinder side with nostalgic, lyrical “Being Mrs. Banks.” Harsh holy terror Grace Ireland (Miss Andrew) and Carlee Ingelido (Bird Woman) were other superb singers. On the more comical side, sarcastic maid Mikayla Cook (Mrs. Brill) and clumsy butler Joey Grugan (Robertson Ay) elicited many giggles.
Defying reality, superior special effects by Ethan McKellar included kitchen objects that could move by themselves and a world of ticking clocks, smokestacks, and shooting stars projected onto the curtains. Adding to the magic was hair and makeup by Caroline Harris and Mikayla Cook. Each cast member had their own set of complex features, from mossy gray statues to creepy pale clowns. Marketing and publicity by PJ Williams and RDG Marketing Team was prolific and professional, promoting the show with Instagram, a press release, and a YouTube channel featuring character profiles.
With flying actors, sentient objects, and most importantly, the magic of love, Ridley High School’s Mary Poppins showed the audience that “Anything Can Happen.”
Review submitted by June Sanchez of Upper Merion Area High School
With tales of chimney sweeps and uncanny nannies, Mary Poppins chronicles the stay of Cherry Tree Lane’s peculiar new resident, who requires nothing more than a “Spoonful of Sugar” to alter the lives of the Banks’ family as they know it. Ridley High School’s performance of this time-honored story-turned-show proved to be as captivating as the magical caretaker herself.
Beginning with P. L. Travers’ literary success of the same title, Mary Poppins was initially converted to a musical film in 1964 before making its on stage debut forty years later. It recounts the story of a meticulous and self-assured nanny who responds to a plea from the Banks children, Jane and Michael, who have their own plans surrounding what sort of caretaker they need. They soon find Mary and the magical adventures she accompanies them on to be the answer to their prayers. However, Jane and Michael are not the only ones whom the new nanny has a profound effect on, as even the adults in their lives can learn a lesson or two from the woman who advises “anything can happen if you let it.”
Ridley High School’s rendition of this classic tale was brought to life by an energetic ensemble. Even with the enormous choreographic demands of the show, the entire cast maintained the utmost composure with not a missed step to speak of.
Victoria Heppard (Mary Poppins) proved to be a “Practically Perfect” triple threat from the moment she stepped on stage. Even the highest notes failed to inhibit her from the flawless articulation one would expect from the prim and proper London Nanny. Heppard’s voice was complemented by her authoritative acting and sublime tap dancing. Benjamin Mergott (Bert) swept the audience off their feet with his charming cockney accent, can-do chimney sweep attitude, and a number of aerial acrobatic tricks. His stark contrast to the tidy, lady-like persona of Mary Poppins served to illustrate another side of life in London, while reminding young Jane and Michael to be thankful for their lives on Cherry Tree Lane.
Mackenzie Cannon’s (Winifred Banks) melodic voice and superb acting reflected the nuance of uncertainty possessed by her character. Additionally, both Grace Ireland (Miss Andrew) and Carlee Ingelido (Bird Woman) delivered strong vocal performances, singing notes higher than the chimney tops with ease.
The set, props, and special effects, while quite impressive, didn’t distract from the action onstage, and heightened the quality of the production. The scenes which involved flying effects were executed flawlessly and emphasized the magic within both Mary and Bert.
Ridley High School’s cast and crew captured the magical world of Mary Poppins with a performance that was nothing short of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”