‘Mary Poppins’ is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! for Wilton Children’s Theater
You don’t need a spoonful of sugar to enjoy Wilton Children’s’ Theater (WCT) winter production of Mary Poppins, as the production is sweet enough on its own. The show is being staged three times this weekend—Friday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 12 at 4 p.m.; and Sunday, March 13 at 2 p.m. and there are still tickets available.
The 55 Wilton children in the cast have been working hard for the last 10 weeks, rehearsing, learning lines and songs, singing and blocking choreography. Their parents have been working just as hard pulling the production together, building sets, putting together perfect costumes, selling tickets, and more.
Now, with just two or three days before being in front of an audience, the company is going through dress rehearsals and final blocking onstage at Middlebrook. The kids all have an easy rapport together, even those in different grades. That’s one of the things that parents of the kids in the productions love about their children being involved with WCT. Children in grades 4th-8th can be part of a WCT show.
Chris Winrow‘s daughter, Eleanor, was in her first production last year as a 7th grader. Chris says that as a mom, it was great to see her daughter make such new and close friends from other grades.
“They really bonded. They still get together, they go do dinners at Orem’s, which is kind of their tradition. She made a whole new group of friends. And she loves it,” says Chris, who adds that seeing her daughter sing a solo ballad in a show last year was very emotional and special.
“When she performed last year she just aged about two years and became a young lady with a voice and presence that none of us had heard or seen before,” she says, echoing what many parents feel about the experience of watching their children bloom in the spotlight and be able to act as someone else.
That’s certainly something 6th grader Daniella Sallese appreciates. She’s been having fun playing Jane Banks, one of the children in Mary Poppins’ care, and she loves getting into character.
“All Jane ever wants is to spend time with her parents, and her way of getting her parents’ attention is to act like a brat. It’s pretty easy, and fun,” she says with a laugh.
For Simon Alexander, a 7th grader who has been in eight WCT shows, being bitten by the acting bug has been exhilarating.
“There’s nothing to beat it,” he says of the feeling of being onstage. “It’s just so fun. Performing is a big passion of mine.”
One thing that’s new for Simon is ‘flying’ while acting. His character, Bert the chimney sweep, is able to magically fly through the air. He and a few of the other actors have to fly with the help of wires and harnesses worn under their costumes. There’s even a stunt coordinator to help the kids master it and oversee safety.
“The first time I’ve flown was yesterday, but it was easy to get the flips down. It’s really fun to do, and fun to be up high,” he says.
He and Hailey Smith, who plays Mary Poppins, are great friends off stage too. Simon says that helps with how they portray their characters in the show.
“We’ve had a lot of fun with it. We didn’t even need the lines.”
Overseeing everything are co-producers Wendy Corper and Marybeth Peterson, parents who have worked their way through several volunteer roles over the years to now be able to manage it all. Marybeth says seeing it all fall into place has been exciting for everyone.
“This is the reward this week, dress week is amazing. The kids are so excited to have their costumes and put makeup on, and finally see it all come together.”
She gives the kids and their parents a lot of credit for getting it all to this point.
“It really is like a village. With publicity, sets, and costumes, all the different parent volunteers make it happen. They’re so hands-on.”
But what Peterson says is even more magical than what happens onstage in front of the audience, is what happens in the weeks and days leading up to the show, when the community the parent volunteers and the kid cast is built.
“What I love is that it’s one of the few programs in town where it’s different grades. You have 4th graders becoming friends with 8th graders. And it’s in a non-competitive environment. Kids can just come and they’re part of a cast. And as they get older, the friendships mean more. As they go into high school, they love knowing kids in other grades, and this is really a great way to do it. I love the collaboration and to see kids who have never been onstage before just blossom.”
Knowing what the kids in the production are getting out of the experience is certainly one reason to buy tickets and enjoy watching the show. But don’t just take our word for it—we’ll let one of the actual cast members, Simon Alexander, tell you why you shouldn’t miss seeing Mary Poppins.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s kid-friendly, and family friendly. There’s an extra surprise with the flying and it’s an overall great show.”
Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s MARY POPPINS is produced by Marybeth Peterson and Wendy Corper and directed by Ginny Ruggieri. The musical director is Al Galletly and choreographer is Sandy Ross. Set design: Anthony Medaglia and Brooke Burling. Costumes by Jen Grass and Sarah Beach. Sets by Julie Stein and Margaret Santacroce.
Tickets are available online. They are also being sold at the Village Market March 9, 10, 11 from 12-2 p.m., at Middlebrook School (entrance by theater) March 9 and 10 from 4:30-6:30 p.m., and one hour before each show. Tickets are $12.00 each when purchased in person at the Village Market or Middlebrook. On-line purchases are $12.60, and will be held for pickup at Will Call.