Baker students present Mary Poppins Jr. at RDC

Published 3:00 pm Friday, February 23, 2024

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While Disney has produced plenty of animated classics, arguably its most critically acclaimed live action film – though it does combine some animation – is “Mary Poppins.” 

Last week, Clark County students had an opportunity to present their version of the classic story. 

At Robert D. Campbell Jr. High School from Friday, Feb. 16 through Sunday, Feb. 18, students of Baker Intermediate School presented “Mary Poppins Jr.” 

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“We had such a wonderful group of actors on stage,” said Katie Berner, a Library Media Specialist at Baker Intermediate School who also helps run the Theater Department. “I’m blown away by the talent that our fifth and sixth graders have and that’s because we have such strong arts programs in our elementary schools and all of Clark County public schools.” 

While named slightly differently, “Mary Poppins Jr.”  which has been an award-winning Broadway musical – is indeed based on the well-known novel by P.L. Travers. 

It tells the story of Mary Poppins, a nanny who – in early 1900s London – goes to live with the Banks family and tend to two children, Jane and Michael, raised by mother Winifred and stern father, George Banks. 

Following a series of adventures and other events that include several musical numbers and – often – Poppins’ supportive, jack-of-all-trades friend Bert, she ends up having a profound effect on the family. 

Lillian Hisle was cast as the main character, along with William Dunaway as Bert, Declan Cullen as George Banks, Chrissy McDaniel as Winifred Banks, Lyla Smith as Jane Banks, Brody Schmeig as Michael Banks, and many more. 

A cast of 66 fifth and sixth graders was put together out of over 100 individuals who auditioned. 

“We started rehearsals in October, and it was a lot of dedication because it was two hours twice a week,” Berner added. 

Along with her work, the production was a family affair of sorts. 

Her husband, Shearer Elementary School music teacher Collin Berner, helped with many of the different song numbers. 

While Hannah Christopher assisted with choreography, Dakotah Brown provided makeup and more. 

Through a program of their own, called Threads for Theater, the Clark County Extension Office even provided costuming. 

“They have a group of women who help us make some costumes for the show,” Berner said. “I go to them with ideas, and then they tell me what they need and they just make that magic happen.” 

As for the people itself, many of the songs people are familiar with returned, including “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, and “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. 

Another song, “Playing the Game”, was unique to the musical but not to those who have seen the film. 

A few other plot points – such as actions Mary Poppins takes – also differed slightly from the film version. 

Yet when asked why she thought “Mary Poppins Jr.” would be a successful hit, Berner took little time to respond. 

“It’s a story that I think a lot of people get nostalgic about. They remember watching it when they were children,” she said. “When you hear the songs, you think back to all those happy childhood memories. It just makes you smile.” 

For both the performers and those who attended, Berger hopes the opportunity leaves a lasting impression. 

“As far as the kids, I hope they learned [about] confidence on stage,” she said. “It takes a lot of courage to audition for a show. It takes a lot of dedication to stick with a show.”