Preparing for Poppins


Senior Abbey Hembree paints individuals shingles on the rooftop while other members of Stage Crew build and paint other parts of the set.

Senior Julia Twigg waits backstage in the wings of the Mercy auditorium, ready to give her next cue. Through her headset, she hears the light booth students preparing to bring down the lights after the scene concludes. The stage grows dark, the only light backstage coming from her iPad. She signals the eight Stage Crew girls to roll the house onto the stage. The girls set the house in complete darkness, aligning the massive set with pieces of glow-in-the-dark tape on the floor. Then they disappear. The lights come up and the scene starts.

The Mercy Theater Department has been preparing for this spring’s musical, Mary Poppins, since September. Most of the current cast was enrolled in the dance class at Mercy, and were able to start working on the routine for Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious even before auditions. After the show was announced last spring, members of the cast anxiously awaited auditions.

“I grew up watching the Julie Andrews movie and absolutely loving it, so when I found out I could have the opportunity to play the iconic figure of Mary Poppins, I knew I had to go for it,” said junior Kylie Kreucher.

A feature that sets this musical apart from the rest is that three of the characters fly. The Mercy Theater Department hired a professional flying technician to teach some of the girls on Stage Crew how to properly operate harnesses and ropes. The cast and crew held their first flying rehearsal on Monday.

“I was really excited to fly and a little nervous,” said Kreucher. “But once I was up in the air, I wasn’t scared at all because I knew I was in safe and good hands.”

The cast and crew are currently working on technical rehearsals after school, running the show in order to perfect each scene.

“I love witnessing the magic that comes to life each week, whether it’s a new set piece or a scene coming more and more alive with each day of rehearsal,” said Kreucher.

Since this is such a large production, everybody, cast and crew, must be on task for the show to run smoothly.

“Backstage is really fun but also stressful,” said sophomore Izzy Fanning, a member of Stage Crew. “We all work on different projects at the same time, but if you need a hand, everyone is willing to help you out.”

To Twigg, being backstage is unlike anything she has ever experienced.

“Being backstage can be very stressful, even more so now that I’m a crew head, because everyone expects me to know what’s going on even when I don’t,” said Twigg. “However, at the same time, standing there in the dark of the wings is sort of calming.”

Stage Crew began to construct the Mary Poppins set in the fall. The set includes a house, which is split into three separate moving pieces, a nursery for the children, a rooftop that is suspended in the air, as well as many other components. The girls on crew come to school most Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. to build and paint the pieces. This set requires much attention to detail. For example, single shingles must be painstakingly painted across the rooftop, which extends across most of the vast stage.

Looking back on their progress, both the cast and crew are extremely proud of all of the work and time they have put into the show to make it an experience the audience won’t forget.

“I know how it works, but to someone watching from the audience, it will look magical,” said Fanning.

Being part of such a large group of people makes members of the cast and crew appreciate each other.

“Everyone in the drama department is amazing,” said Twigg. “Whether it be cast or crew, I have met so many talented and genuinely perfect people.”