Chimney sweeps, penguins, bankers and a magical nanny have been seen scampering about Legacy Traditional School as the charter prepares for its big spring musical extravaganza.
This year, it’s “Mary Poppins Jr.”
The production is set for Feb. 22-23 and March 2. Musical Director Michelle Wagner has assembled more than 100 fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders into a singing and dancing troupe. Parents are also a vital link for organizing the production, which is a major fund-raiser, and getting the kids in terrific costumes.
“The cast is incredible,” Wagner said.
The production is a junior version of the 1964 Disney musical that was converted into a Broadway show in 2006, filled with familiar tunes and based on the books by P.L. Travers.
While several cast members have a few musical productions under their belts, seventh-grader Adelin Robinson is a new performer who landed the title role with her voice.
“At first I didn’t really want the role. I was so scared to do an audition in the first place,” Adelin said. “But after a while, it took a lot of confidence and I was able to try out.”
The story is a tale of the Banks family, which can’t seem to keep a nanny for two mischievous children, Jane and Michael. Mr. Banks has prioritized his work at the bank ahead of his family, but the arrival of a mysterious nanny sets his home life on end.
“I love coming up here and being Mary Poppins, a strict but kind nanny. It’s just amazing,” Adelin said. “I really love the songs and the music. At first, one of the songs had a note that had to be held for a really long time, but now I can hold it.”
Eighth-grader Caleb Ortiz plays George Banks. He has previously been in productions of “Aladdin,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Peter Pan.” He is also in the junior high choir and has appeared in smaller junior high musicals.
“Mr. Banks means business. He doesn’t like fooling around. He doesn’t like these kids coming in and bothering him. He’s just trying to work and do all his stuff,” Caleb said. “I don’t really like being mean so when I go to being nice it’s fun.”
Last year, eighth-grader Tanner Webster soared as Peter Pan. In “Mary Poppins,” he plays the lively role of Bert the chimney sweep.
“Bert is really fun to play,” Tanner said. “He’s super happy and he’s always very kind to other people. And at the same time, he is able to have fun, but he cares about others, and I think that’s a very good characteristic.”
The part includes a lot of action, and Tanner has been having fun with it.
“I love singing and dancing. His dancing is like really all over the place, super crazy and fun, and I really like that,” he said. “I do take inspiration from [Dick Van Dyke], but I do think it’s important when you’re playing a role to make it your own.”
Ryah Wilkinson, an eighth grader, plays Winifred, the matriarch of the Banks clan. She was previously seen in “The Little Mermaid” and “Peter Pan.” She has also performed in elementary concerts and is a member of the junior high choir.
“She’s a bit strict but she’s also nice,” she said of Mrs. Banks. “She likes to deal with things in an orderly fashion and make sure everything goes well.”
Fifth-grader Morgan Lee is happy to get into costume to play young Jane Banks, and she’s concentrating hard on the dance steps.
“I want to get the dancing right,” Morgan said. “All the choreography is kind of hard to memorize.”
For Takaru Harris, a fifth grader playing Michael Banks, the bed in the nursery has been more of a challenge. “The way they set up my bed is I have a pillow, and when I lay down it flies out. It’s difficult to lay down, and my back hurts because I have to stay up.”
Among others in the cast are Maya Pulliam as Katie Nanna, Logan Woods as Robertson Ay, Cydney Williford as the Bird Woman, Taylor Girard as Neleus and Diana Harris as Miss Smythe.
Showtime is 6 p.m. each night, with a 2 p.m. matinee March 2. Tickets start at $5. Contact the school at 520-423-9999.