Behind the scenes: Mary Poppins

Austin Cleveland, writer

The KH Players production of Mary Poppins took place in the Keating Theatre April 14-16. Months of behind the scenes work came together for three music-filled nights of “Jolly Holiday,” “A Spoonful Of Sugar” and “Chim-Chim-Cher-ee.”

Kelly Schnider, drama teacher, and the other musical advisors began the musical selection process last year and decided on Mary Poppins. They began gathering the scripts and music in December.

“Within four years of a student’s high school career, we like to do a cycle of four genres of musicals,” Schnider said. “A family-friendly musical, which was this year, a more traditional musical, which will be next year’s musical, a contemporary musical, and one that includes harder musical elements that challenge our students, but is still fun and enjoyable.”

Auditions took place during the first week of February for onstage roles. Students sang, danced and demonstrated their acting skills hoping to land a spot on the cast. Schnider and her advisors also looked for personality traits such as being easy to work with.

“If you are going to be working that much with students for the next 8-10 weeks, you have to be able to work with the person and not just their performance,” Schnider said.

Eight weeks before showtime, costumes are made, the set is built, lighting is set up and the actors and actresses learn songs and dances. All work must be done before the curtain is raised.

“When we had a day off, the other departments would be up here working, so there are always people doing something and not a conflict for space,” James Fuszner, junior who played Mr. Punch, said.

Greg Booth, technical director for KH Players, advises all behind the scenes roles including set construction, lighting and sound. Technical cast members did not have tryouts, instead, leadership spots were awarded based on attendance.

“If you can create a space the audience believes that actors are in, then you have enhanced the storytelling,” Booth said.