Written by Maggie Samples // Photo by Macy Cox
For this year’s Homecoming musical, the Department of Theatre will perform “Mary Poppins” tonight and tomorrow in Benson Auditorium. The show involves a large set and a mechanism to fly actors during the performance.
“It’s a huge show,” director and assistant professor of theatre Dottie Frye said. “It’s bigger, probably, than any other musical we’ve ever done.”
Frye said she chose “Mary Poppins” for the musical because of the theme of family in the plot.
“I’ve always wanted to do it because I just think it’s a wonderful, wonderful, magical story,” Frye said.
The Department of Theatre worked with Vertigo, a company that provides flying effects for productions and special events, to set up the mechanics to fly the actors. Vertigo also trained the actors who will fly during the show and the students responsible for the rigging. The set was designed by professor of theatre Britton Lynn and features several LED screens.
“I’m a firm believer in the process,” Frye said. “If the process is a positive one where we have the attitudes [where] we treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, we encourage, we build up, we work hard, then the product will take care of itself.”
Frye said the cast has worked well together and created good memories during the rehearsal process. She said the entire cast and crew have contributed to the success of the musical.
“The responsibility is mine, but there’s no way I could do it all by myself,” Frye said.
Junior Janie Shasteen is playing Mary Poppins in the musical. Shasteen said the Cast and crew have formed a supportive community.
“We are thrilled to be sharing this magical story with the Harding community, and everyone involved in the show has put in so much work to make sure it will be a special experience,” Shasteen said. “I am so honored to have been chosen for this role, especially because it is Harding’s Centennial.”
Junior dance captain Emma McDaris said the choreography has been affected by the set and the flight element of the show. The choreography is being used to cover up scene changes, which is unusual in a Harding musical.
“During every dance, we can make it this fantastical world that Mary’s making for the kids,” McDaris said. “Instead of trying to make it functional, we’re trying to make it joyful, which is a very different thought process when you’re creating choreography.”
According to McDaris, the Centennial has put pressure on the cast to do well and emphasizes the familial theme of the musical.
“When you look closely, the show is about a broken family who needs help being put back together,” Shasteen said. “It’s about a father who learns how to love his wife and children, a mother who learns how to stand up for herself and the people she loves, and two very special children who learn that anything can happen if you let it.”
Both performances of “Mary Poppins” will be at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $20 in the alumni office and online at hardingtickets.com or for $25 at the door.