The musical theatre department at Robert Bateman secondary presents its production of the Broadway musical Mary Poppins on Feb. 19 and 20 at the Clarke Theatre in Mission.
This is the second full-length production the department has presented, following the success of last year’s Beauty and the Beast.
The school’s previous two presentations – Seussical in 2013 and The Little Mermaid in 2014 – were both “junior” versions of the full-length shows, running about 75 minutes each, compared to two and a half hours for the longer productions.
Artistic and technical director Ray Dencer said the longer shows are more challenging for the cast, with twice as much dialogue, songs and choreography to learn, but he said they are more than capable,
He said he enjoys the difficulty of a longer show.
“That’s me … I like that kind of challenge.”
Dencer said he chose Mary Poppins for this year’s production because he loves the musical numbers and he enjoyed seeing the play in 2006 in London, when he and his wife were given a backstage tour.
He said he was particularly awed by the sets on the professional production. Many of them required special effects to display Mary Poppins’ magical abilities, and they made use of sophisticated and varied technology.
Although the Robert Bateman version isn’t quite as high-tech, it is still considerably more complex than last year’s production.
Dencer said Beauty and the Beast required only three different sets to represent the castle, village and forest. Mary Poppins, on the other hand, has almost 40 set changes.
In some cases, the pieces revolve to quickly change the setting.
The production also includes 25 songs, backed by the school’s concert band with some additional players from the community, under the direction of Kris Werner.
The musical is based on the similarly titled series of children’s books by P. L. Travers and the 1964 Disney film, but was rewritten by Julian Fellowes, the creator, writer and executive producer of the award-winning British TV series Downton Abbey.
The play is set in 1910 and tells the story of the Banks family, whose children, Jane and Michael, are out of control and need a new nanny. A mysterious young woman named Mary Poppins appears at the door of their London home, and she takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures.
The Robert Bateman production features Lauren Davis and Caylee Watrin sharing the role of Mary Poppins.
Other key roles are played by Kyle Keyworth as George Banks, Eliza Cadsand and Hannah Kramer as Winifred Banks, Kieran Rothwell and Shalaya Loeppky as Jane, and Meghann Rothwell and Megan Kornicki as Michael.
Public performances of the show take place Friday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 20 at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Clarke Theatre, 33700 Prentis Ave. in Mission.
Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or through the Robert Bateman secondary office (35045 Exbury Ave., phone 604-864-0220).