Mary Poppins Just A Bit More

by Ting Chun Chang, dramaturg

One of the traditions in the BYU theatre department is to have a post show discussion with the audience, actors, and members of the production team after every Thursday night performance. To finish up our coverage on Mary Poppins, I want to share some of the great questions and answers that were discussed.

Q: This production looks very professional. Is it a student design team?

A: It is half and half. The cast are students; some are more experienced. For the designing team, we have several options: 1) We have professional faculty members with student assistants, 2) We have the students who co-design with other student designers, 3) And of course, we have student designers who design alone. These students have a faculty adviser to guide them when they need a piece of advice.

Statue

Q: How do the statues stay the same pose so long?

A: Through the rehearsal process, they tried many different poses, eventually choosing the ones where they could comfortably freeze for long time.

Q: Is it hard to sing and dance at the same time?

A: Yes, it is a challenge for the cast. However, the cast receive training on daily basis, which includes working on their stamina and breath support. Our music director, Gayle coaches them with the music.

Q: Why did the toy scene look a little bit scary?Mary Poppins

A: I had a conversation with the cast about that scene. Our discovery is that it is the last time that Mary tries to teach children how to respect and appreciate others, but apparently, Michael and Jane didn’t want to change their attitude. Mary feels a bit frustrated and she chooses to leave for a little bit afterward.

*Originally, this number was called “Temper, Temper.” When it opened on Broadway back in 2006, there was a young audience member who came see the show and was very frightened. This young audience member even crawled into her mother’s lap. The production team took note of this and other reactions and reworked the song to be less scary, resulting in a new song “Playing The Game” replacing “Temper, Temper.”

Q: How long do you prepare for this production? What was the process?

A: The first production meeting was at April 2016. The director, George Nelson, talked about his concept and feelings about the story with the design team. Then the whole team discussed the characters together, and, over the next few months, started presenting their design concept. Over the summer, the work was continually under development. We started the rehearsal process in late August.16114819_10211608923754770_1993014204181556406_n

Q: What is the answer on page 17 of the study guide?

A: It was the Utah courthouse. Handley finds it interesting to uses some of the images around Utah to build the scenery. I think it makes this production unique.

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