Jimmy Aton, Jared McCune and Von Gushka. Art 4 teacher, Amy Brozena and students Neil Simasek, Liz Hine, Nina McCormack, Kara Grentzberg, Sara Hall, Alex Gattuso and Alexis Rockey added the artistic effects to the set.
The music was a challenge all of its own. By the time cast members were able to treat the capacity crowd to several favorite tunes, including, Spoonful of Sugar, Chim Chiminey, Lets Go Fly a Kite, and, of course, Supercalafragalisticexpialadocious, the pit orchestra had put in countless hours of rehearsal with the cast to get everything right. According to Leo, the Pitt Orchestra, led by Joe Zeigler, had their “work cut out for them” with the musical arrangements, as the extraordinarily difficult music “changed keys four times on one page”.
“Don’t even get me started on the pit orchestra,” said Taylor Wells, who played the role of Winnifred Banks. “They really had their work cut out for them and they pulled it off fabulously.”
Those key changes stretched not only reeds and mouthpieces, but voices as well.
“The biggest challenge was the music because there were so many key changes and little things that made it difficult,” explained Wells. “but learning it was also the most rewarding part because we were able to do it well.”
The entire cast had to tackle the music and for both voice and acting; Leo couldn’t have found two students more perfect for the main leads in the show. The only person who could have portrayed a more Julie Andrews Mary Poppins than Liz Hines would have been Julie Andrews. Hines was “practically perfect in every way” as she nailed every aspect of the character, from voice to melody to attitude to facial expression to physical movement; she was just that good. The range of her singing was extensive and she beautifully executed every note. Adding Freshman Brian Costello as Bert made scenes like the sing along Jolly Holiday and the quick tempo, tongue twisting Step in Time nearly jaw dropping. Costello added not only an impressive singing voice, but also an easy mix of light comedy and serious thoughtfulness to his scenes.
“It was fun to play a vain, yet prim and proper nanny,” said Hines, who has had the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaind, a stepsister in Cinderella, Maria in West Side Story and Cosette in Les Miserables. “She’ll always be one of my favorite roles.”
Leo also assembled an impressive group of singers for supporting roles in Matthew Zwiebel as George Banks, Wells as Winifred Banks, Nina Mccormack and Seth Edwards as Jane and Michael Banks, and Emily Hiott as the Bird Woman who sang a beautiful rendition of Feed the Birds. Quinn Roberts and Regan Venturi teamed up beautifully as butler Robertson Ay and cook, Mrs. Brill, adding some very comedic interactions to tense scenes.
The overall theme was uplifting; stressing the idea that people come before money, and giving the inspiring message that “anything can happen if you let it”.
“There are so many great messages that Mary had in this show,” said Hines. “Mary’s last lines are ‘with every task when its complete there is a sense of bittersweet…In your heart you’d like to stay to help things on their way, but you’ve always known they must do it alone’ –that really hit home for me.”
And if the tearful smiles of the cast and crew were any indication, one can reasonably guess that they all felt a sense of “bittersweet”. Clearly, Mary Poppins had been a memorable experience for everyone involved.
“If there was one thing I wanted people to know about the show, it would be all the hard work that people do behind the scenes.” explained Wells “People see the final product but what they’re really seeing is all of the hard work and effort that went in from so many people, not just the cast, and I think that’s one of the things that made this show so special.”
“This show was the best one I’ve been in yet,” continued Wells, who has had parts in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cinderella, and Annie Get Your Gun. “We all came out of it as strong friends and I think that’s one of the best parts of getting involved with stuff like this, because we all worked so hard to put on a good show and it brought us together. “
“You work with people you’ve never really talked to before and connect with them,” added Gugliotti.
“I’ll never forget this show for the rest of my life and the cast and crew will always be in my heart forever,” remarked Hines.
At the conclusion of their last performance, Mary Poppins “flew” away with the wind; demonstrating to the capacity crowd on hand that “anything [really] can happen if you let it”. In that moment last weekend, the teachers and students of Crestwood High School had pulled off the “anything”.