December 2015

Arts Center’s Mary Poppins Brings Magic to the Island

Author: Laura Jacobi | Photographer: TR Media World

What comes to mind when you hear the name Mary Poppins? Do you imagine spoonsful of sugar, magic-powered umbrellas, a bottomless carpet bag and a voice like an angel who makes every chore a game and turns every life lesson into a song? Many would describe Mary Poppins as an enchanting nanny, “practically perfect in every way.”

Discover how “anything can happen” at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’s regional production of Disney’s Mary Poppins, the musical, running Dec. 9-31.

For those who watched the Disney film in amazement, the musical offers the same mixture of a heartwarming story, unforgettable songs and breathtaking, theatrical dance numbers. However, the stage production is more of a blend of the film and the classic book series by P.L. Travers. The musical takes the audience on a narrative journey about two naughty children, Jane and Michael, their not-so-perfect parents, George and Winifred, and the nanny who changes all of them. The show is directed by BroadwayWorld award-winner Casey Colgan and choreographed by BroadwayWorld award-winner Nic Thompson, both of whom are Arts Center favorites.

According to Colgan, the stage production differs from the film version in the story itself. He says both are full of adventures and fun, but the musical “is a beautiful family story, and it includes lessons and meaning for children and adults.”

According to Thompson, Mary Poppins the musical embodies the “sophistication and magic you would expect from a Disney musical.”

Thompson, who most recently graced the Arts Center stage as Tulsa in the 2015 production of Gypsy, performed in the ensemble of the Mary Poppins national tour in 2011 and transferred to the Broadway company in 2012 for the majority of that year. Thompson has been performing at the Arts Center for 11 years and says Hilton Head Island feels like a second home.

“I care for the (Hilton Head Island) audience and the Arts Center,” Thompson said. “I’m so excited to share Mary Poppins with them, because it’s where I made my Broadway debut.”
Thompson assures us there will be plenty of the Disney spectacle and “magic” we’ve grown to expect with their musicals. But instead of watching it on a screen, “the audience gets to experience the magic in real time,” he said.


Pictured left to right:Allegra Leland, Rachel Stratton, Blake Lutz

“This is an ‘oh-my-God’ dance musical because of all the places we go,” Thompson said. There will be nine major production numbers in the show featuring a cast of 31. Throughout the course of the show, audience members will be treated to a gorgeous ballet, fast-paced tap numbers and a 13-minute production of “Step in Time,” which Thompson promises to be a stunning spectacle.

According to Colgan, the dance numbers are a product of Thompson’s dance and choreographic experience, and he can’t wait to see the awe-inspired faces in the audience.
He also can’t stop gushing about the leading lady, Allegra Leland. Colgan says he can’t wait for Lowcountry audiences to be introduced to this amazing performer, who is making her lead-role debut as Mary Poppins, but who was in the Arts Center’s Spamalot.

Leland was a student of his in New York City at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She came to audition for the show as a dancer adorned in her leotard and tights. But in the middle of the audition, he asked her to read for the part of Mary to see how it felt. “When she read the lines, we all just sat and looked at each other,” Colgan said. She was the magic they were searching for. He told the others involved in casting, “This is it. She’s Mary Poppins.”

Besides all the new and exciting talented cast members from New York, the show boasts 13 local performers, one who is extremely well-known to Lowcountry stages. Lori Maurer will play the famous Bird Woman, who many will remember from the beloved Disney film. She will sing the iconic “Feed the Birds,” which was rumored to be Walt Disney’s favorite song from all his movies.

The show’s family-oriented theme, sprinkled with fun and fantasy, and combined with thoughtful lessons for any age, makes Mary Poppins the perfect family experience to enjoy together this holiday season.

Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets for the Dec. 9-10 preview performances are $49 for adults and $35 for children 5-15; Regular tickets for shows Dec. 11-31 are $59 for adults and $41 for children. Purchase tickets by calling (843) 686-3945 or visiting artshhi.com. 

The Arts Center is located at 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island, near the entrance to Shelter Cove Harbour.

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