On Feb. 26 through March 1, the USM School of Music produces the Disney classic musical, “Mary Poppins.”
According to the Music Theatre International website, “Mary Poppins” the musical, an adaptation of the classic Disney film, tells the story of the Banks family in 1910 England.
Using a spoonful of sugar, some magic and common sense, nanny Mary Poppins brings new life to the Banks family and teaches them how to value each other.
After a short audition process in August, the chosen cast has been in rehearsal since mid-October perfecting staging, singing and tap dancing. Director Mike Lopinto said the actors have been working hard throughout the break, including the children.
“They’re very good,” he complimented. “They come and they are ready.”
“Mary Poppins” will be the first major production to be performed in the renovated Mannoni Performing Arts Center (PAC), which was extremely damaged in the tornado that ravaged Hattiesburg in 2013. This tornado occurred during production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” which resulted in the show being moved to the nearby Saenger Theater. After a year and a half of renovation, the PAC is now refitted with brand new equipment, including stage lights, a new rigging system and a specialized flying system by the famous rigging company Flying by Foy.
That’s right: Mary Poppins will fly with the help of a group of skilled technicians and a beautiful new system. Flying by Foy has rigged and done flight choreography for artists such as Ke$ha and Katy Perry, as well as the recent production of “Peter Pan: Live!” and the Broadway production of Mary Poppins.
“I just found out, we’re getting the use of a proscenium walk. So (one of the actors) will be walking on the ceiling,” Lopinto said.
The actors will also change each night, with two sets of actors playing the same role.
The role of Bert, Mary, Jane Banks and Michael Banks will change each night, with the rest of the roles and the ensemble remaining
The actors and behind-the-scenes people have been incredibly excited about the performance and look forward to bringing this magical story to the community.
Lori Birrer, the actor portraying Mary, said, “If I (were) a kid, I would hate to miss it because it’s going to be fun and engaging. If I were an adult, I think it will make me think and it will warm my heart.”
“There are so few things to take your family (to),” Lopinto said. “The people in it are so invested. And, I think we’re excited to show off the technology that’s available to us now.”
It is advised to order tickets soon because the seats are selling out quickly. For more information on the show itself and to see a cast list, look on the School of Music’s website. For ticket information, call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at 800.844.8425 601.266.5418 or southernmisstickets.com.