Practically Perfect: Mary Poppins Review

The school musical was a major success for Dunbar’s Drama department

Each year, Dunbar’s drama department puts on a spring musical to perform for both school and outside audiences. In 2015, they chose to produce Legally Blonde Jr., which was a huge hit among all audiences. This year, the drama department worked all winter on the performance of the classic Mary Poppins. First performed for a school audience on Wed., Apr. 13, shows lasted until the following Sunday for full audiences of high school students, elementary age kids and parents and other adults. The production was definitely a ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ experience.

I grew up watching Mary Poppins so being able to play one of my favorite childhood characters is such an honor”

— Mackenzie McConnell, Mary Poppins

Brooke Noe, who teaches English at Dunbar, directed the musical alongside drama teacher Ms. Henning, organizing everything from the cast to costumes to props. Auditions were held in January and rehearsals started soon after, as they took a small portion of the production to Disney for the annual Festival of Arts. They did very well in this competition, winning best overall choreography. When they returned to Lexington, rehearsals for the full show started back up, practicing upwards of four hours a day, including weekends. In an interview with Noe, when asked about the length of musical practices, she replied,

“Through the first little bit of the show, they stay and we have a blocking day, choreography day, or music day, and they are really focused on that one thing from about 3:00 to 6:00. We’re here until we’re done, which is sometimes very long.”

These practice hours and hard work obviously paid off- the show ran extremely smoothly and the singing, dancing and acting were all very impressive. Sophomore Mackenzie McConnell, who played Mary Poppins, gave an outstanding performance and wowed the crowd with her vocal talent, which was brought out in songs like ‘Practically Perfect’ and ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’. In an interview with McConnell, she lit up when asked about the experience:

“I think we all feel very blessed to be a part of such an incredible production. I grew up watching Mary Poppins so being able to play one of my favorite childhood characters is such an honor. Everyone in the cast is so supportive of each other, too. They make working on the show just that much better.”

Bert, played by senior Jake Chafin, was by far one of the most believable roles, with a spot-on accent and great vocals to accompany it. Both leads were cast perfectly, and the actors complimented each other well.

It has this own tone and magical quality to it that really brings out the emotions and brings a whole new level to the show”

— Brooke Noe

In addition to the lead roles being ‘practically perfect,’ smaller parts such as Jane and Michael Banks played by Kaitlyn Rucker and Cassidy Kemplin, respectively, were performed just as well. Background dancers and singers in scenes such as the park and ‘step in time,’ were always in sync and looked professional. ‘Step in Time,’ the most difficult choreography of the musical, was a huge highlight. The hard work that was put in to this particular scene was evident in that everyone stayed in sync the entire time while still singing. This part was definitely a crowd favorite.

The music and choreography in each scene made the show lively and bright, just like the original Mary Poppins.

“Musicals are my favorite because music just brings a whole new level to it,” said Noe. “It has this own tone and magical quality to it that really brings out the emotions and brings a whole new level to the show.”

All in all, Mary Poppins was a huge success with a great combination of singing, dancing and acting. This production will be hard to top next year, but the drama department is sure to do a great job with whatever show they choose to produce. Thank you to everyone who came out to support them in this awesome show.