Mary Poppins

21768185_1906329982717356_1116199930238048046_nMary Poppins, a family favorite for decades, came flying into Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center as the opening production to their eleventh season. This combines P.L. Travers’ book series and Walt Disney’s film into one stage musical. It includes all the most renowned musical scores from Disney’s film such as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee” along with additional scores.

This making is based around the dysfunctional Banks family – primarily the two children: Jane and Michael. After many failed nannies, one answers Jane and Michael’s call and turns the whole house upside down. But despite the abnormality of her, all of them love Mary Poppins as she fixes the family in her own charming way.

Mary Poppins is a fun-filled yet stern nanny. Amanda Gross, who played the titular character, portrayed these two sides by appearing to George (Allan Snyder) and Winifred (Erika Strasburg) Banks as a fitting nanny to the children. Although, when she is alone with the children, the audience learns that she has tricks up her sleeve that win over their hearts. Amanda Gross won over my heart as she efficiently displayed these opposing sides of her role.

untitled (510 of 712)A pleasant addition to this show was the flying effects that were a part of the technical aspects. Mary Poppins is renowned for coming into a scene from the sky with her umbrella in hand. But, it was remarkable to see it onstage! Even Bert, played by Mathew Fedorek, used the flying effects in the song “Step in Time.” Fedorek’s use of the suspensions had me holding onto the edge of my seat as he walked up the proscenium of the stage, up to the top, and back down the other side. Praise to Mathew Fedorek for executing that stunt so well.

All the actors and actresses were very well trained in being historically correct within this show. They kept up with a consistent British dialect, since this takes place during the industrial period of England, which was towards the end of the Victorian Era. It helped the audience pick out a sense of place within the show.

The most well-trained actor, though, was the precious little dog, Lily, that the Center casted as Mrs. Lark’s dog, Willoughby. Lily remained still in the arms of whoever was holding her within that moment. She made no noise or signs of struggle each time the audience saw her. Lily was the love of every young child watching.

22221981_1917670534916634_4396336125824043449_nA minor issue I had was with the musical structure itself was the first time “A Spoonful of Sugar” is sung, it takes place in the kitchen and not in the bedroom like it is in the film. The song also happens very abruptly within that kitchen setting. I feel as though it would’ve been more suiting if the writers for the musical would have kept it within the bedroom, instead of changing the scenery.

What I did enjoy about the kitchen scene, though, were the props used within it. Robertson Ay, played by Zane Gagliardi, ends up having a fainting spell before “A Spoonful of Sugar” begins and knocks over hanging pans, destroys china in a pantry, then crashes into a table, splitting it. Shortly after the song, Mary Poppins uses her magic and you see pans float up onto their racks, china and shelving restoring itself to a straight position, and table sliding back into one piece. The technicality behind the breakable but reparable props was a wonder to witness!

I was impressed by the way Gregory Buck, who played Neleus, remained rock-still as a statue during the first park scene. I did not realize he was real until he jumped down from the pedestal. He was graceful as he performed turns, leaps, and the such till he returned to his static pose. Despite all the movement, he remained still the second time around.

22384304_1923869024296785_9059847582351770289_oAs far as choreography goes, almost every song had a dance number to it. Jennifer Verba, Mary Poppins choreographer and Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School’s head of Dance, was the director for these creations. The dancers were poised, elegant, and expressed the song being performed through their feet. The more memorable choreography was during “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

At the ending of the show, Amanda Gross walked over towards the corner of the stage and became suspended once again with the ZFX flying effects and ascended over the audience. It was a fairy-tale sight, seeing her gradually flying over the rows of spectators to the balcony seats with an enormous smile on her face. She eventually was harnessed up, and lifted back down to the stage for the end acknowledgements.

You can see Mary Poppins at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland Pennsylvania from October 13-15 and 20-22. Tickets range from $15, $18, and $20 and can be purchased at lincolnparkarts.org.

Photos courtesy of Zac Cageao and the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center.

Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center Dreams Bigger

1916154_1277051875645173_4367323203200371281_nFor their 11th year of performances, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center is introducing their 2017-2018 season – “Dream Bigger,” beginning on October 6, 2017, through June 24, 2018. This season is unlike any theatre or shows they produce. Apart from the plays and musicals, there will be two ballets performed. During the construction of the LPP Arts Center and Charter School in Midland, the town coined the “Build the Dream.” After that dream was built, and 11 years since, the Center is now expanding their dream in this season.

Justin Fortunato, the artistic director of the Center, is the creative mind behind this season. He chose each of the 8 shows that encompass the theme of “Dream Bigger.” “From a flying nanny helping a family in need to the American dream, to dreaming about one’s impact on the world, this season challenges us to push our perceptions of what is possible. Lincoln Park as an organization is also growing and developing based on the dreams that were dreamt a little over a decade ago when it was created,” Said Justin Fortunato.

A special component of the Center is that the students from the accompanying Charter School are encouraged to audition for these productions. Anyone with the passion to sing, act, and/or dance is more than welcome to audition. From students to resident artists, professionals, and even teachers – all are welcome to perform.

Mary-Poppins-iconThe season will kick off with everyone’s beloved nanny in Mary Poppins from October 6-8, 13-15, and 20-22. This production will feature spectacular flying illusions and amazing costumes. Based on the original book by P.L. Travers, featuring songs from the Walt Disney film, this is a magical and ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ way to start a bigger dream.

James-Peach-iconFrom November 10-12 and 17-19, audiences can embark on a journey traveling in and over-sized fruit in James and the Giant Peach Jr. This will be Lincoln Park’s third junior production. It will mostly feature a younger casting, with middle school students and below. Based on Roald Dahl’s novel, you can join a young boy, an insect, and their gargantuan juicy vessel.

Wonderful-Life-iconLincoln Park will begin their holiday cheer with It’s A Wonderful Life December 1-3 and 8-10. Inspired by Frank Capra’s film. Sticking with the season’s theme, the story follows a man, George Bailey, who is always chasing a dream just out of reach.  He then meets his guardian angel, who puts him in a dreamlike state, or nightmare, so that he can see what life would be like had he never been born.  This American classic has love, tragedy and plenty of laughs, and is a great way to start the winter holiday.

Nutcracker-iconThe Nutcracker concludes the holiday season from December 14-17. Performed by Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School’s own dance students, this combines Tchaikovsky’s famous melodic pieces and E.T.A Hoffman’s story. Featuring over 50 high school dancers, this performance will have the audience dreaming of sugarplums.

Great-Gatsby-iconBased on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novella, The Great Gatsby will be performed from February 16-18 and 23-25. In this haunting rendition, audiences follow Nick Carroway when he meets Jay Gatsby. Carroway eventually learns of Gatsby’s obsession with the gorgeous girl next door.

Another performance by Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School will grace the stage with Sleeping Beauty Dance Upon A Dream. This classic tale will leave anyone awake and breathless from March 16-18 and 23-25.

Big-Fish-iconRight from Broadway on April 20-22, 27-29, and May 4-6, Lincoln Park presents Big Fish. One of Lincoln Park’s most technically ambitious shows performed, this production is about family and adventure. From Daniel Wallace’s acclaimed novel and Tim Burton’s film rendition, the show focuses on Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman with extraordinary tales. But when his son, Will, is going to have a son of his own, he tries to sort out his father’s tall tales.

Ragtime-iconLincoln Park’s 2017-2018 “Dream Bigger” season ends with Ragtime the Musical. During the high-time of the melting pot that is New York, this show features three different kinds of families: an upper-class wife, a Jewish immigrant, and a Harlem musician as they face the challenges during that time. This will be performed June 15-17 and 22-24.

 

“I look forward to seeing our young aspiring artists – our students – doing what they love and all of the talent, energy, and enthusiasm they bring to each and every performance!” Said Stephen Catanzarite, who helped with the marketing and promotion of the series, about this upcoming season. Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center’s hometown of Midland waited anxiously for the dream to be built. Now that it is, they are making the theatre world, and student’s dreams bigger with this season. “I look forward to opening our season on October 6 with Mary Poppins and continuing through June 24, 2018 with Ragtime. This season is full of beautiful moments, and programming for the entire family!”