Mary Poppins’ comes to life at a local high school—and with all the bells and whistles

Green Valley High School was the first non-professional organization to stage the Broadway musical Mary Poppins, which was based on the book series and Disney film (pictured) of the same name.

If you didn’t get your spoonful of sugar when the national tour of Mary Poppins stopped at the Smith Center in 2012, you’re in luck. The beloved Tony-winning musical closed on Broadway after six-plus years last March, but the play’s licensing agency, Music Theatre International, chose the Valley’s own Green Valley High School as the first non-professional organization to stage the show, which opened on January 30. It marks the fourth time the Henderson school has been chosen by MTI to debut an amateur production of a Disney stage show, following High School Musical: On Stage!, High School Musical 2: On Stage! and Camp Rock: The Musical.

“This is definitely the biggest ever. It’s a giant show,” says GVHS theater director Jennifer Hemme, whose relationship with MTI began years ago when she lent the licensing agency her laptop at a conference. “It was kind of a twist of fate … it’s been really nice, they’ve been very supportive of our program.”

Mary Poppins is quite the imaginative production, so Hemme also enlisted industry professionals to help elevate the student performance. Production company Flying by Foy took command of the flying sequences (remember the umbrella?) and the performers received lessons from New York-based choreographer and past Mamma Mia! performer Greg Kata. The cast even learned British accents for the play. Musical accompaniment is provided live by students from the school’s nationally recognized band and orchestra programs.

And if you’re too much of a theater snob to spend Friday night in a high school auditorium, maybe the Smith Center will suffice? Green Valley is scheduled to stage the show there in May to be adjudicated for June's International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Mary Poppins February 6-8, 7 p.m., $12-$15. Green Valley High School, gvhstheatre.com.

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