Village Tattler Review: Anything Can Happen at the Magical Mary Poppins at Engeman Theater

Village Tattler

December 12, 2016

Claudia D. Wheeler

 

A magical show the whole family can enjoy awaits you at The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport this holiday season. Based on the classic Disney film, Engeman brings the story of the mysterious nanny to life on the stage. Mary Poppins will follow the following performance schedule from now through Saturday, December 31, 2016: Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm. Some Wednesdays and Sunday evening are available.

Directed and choreographed by Drew Humphrey (Engeman Theater: Thoroughlly Modern Millie, A Chorus Line, White Christmas), the cast of this magnificent production features Analisa Leaming as Mary Poppins (Broadway: The Kind and I, On the Twentieth Century). Leaming beams with just the right touch and attitude in the most delightful way. She brings the character of Poppins to life with a wonderful presence and rich, melodious vocals and makes you believe in the magic as she flies effortlessly across the stage on several occasions. Leaming alone is worth seeing the show for, and bringing the kids to see, but she is also accompanied by a talented cast: Luke Hawkins plays Bert (Broadway: Xanadu, Cirque du Soleil, and Banana Shpeel); Liz Pearce as Winifred Banks (Broadway: Billy Elliot and National Tours of Little Shop of Horrors, Jesus Christ Superstar, Seussical), as well as David Schmittou as George Banks, who delighted audiences as the narrator in A Christmas Story at Engeman in 2014.

This amazing cast also includes: Katherine Lafountain as Jane Banks and Chris Mckenna as Michael Banks, as well as Matthew Baker, Charles Baran, Luca Bergin, Jane Blass, Chris Brand, Linda Cameron, Samantha Carroll, Dena Digiacinto, Sophia Guarnaschelli, Alicia Hemann, Becky Grace Kalman, Sophia Kekllas, Oren Korenblum, Ben Russell-Lynch, Suzanne Mason, Meaghan Mcinnes, Danny Meglio, Courtney Moran, Peter Surace, Bronwyn Tarboton, Moore Theobald, Michael Verre, and Jacqueline Winslow.

We are entertained throughout the show by the magical Mary Poppins who shows up to care for Jane and Michael Banks and brings everyone on adventures with chimney sweeps, shopkeepers, and other characters. The dances are well choreographed numbers performed by skillful performers (many having performed on Broadway and Off Broadway). We remember all the catchy songs from the movie, which will get stuck in your head again for days: “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds,” “Step in Time,”  “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Jolly Holiday,” and  “Anything Can Happen.”

The Creative team features  Jason Simms (Scenic Design), Kurt Alger (Costume And Wig Design), Zach Blane (Lighting Design), Laura Shubert (Sound Design),Gayle Seay And Scott Wojcik Of Wojcik/Seay Casting (Casting Directors), Kristie Moschetta (Props Design), and Sean Francis Patrick (Production Stage Manager).

Mary Poppins is produced by Richard Dolce, the theater’s Producing Artistic Director and musically directed by Michael Hopewell (NYC: Once We Lived Here, Billy Bishop Goes to War, and Rent).

Tickets are $76.00 on Saturday evenings, and $71 all other performances and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport or visit www.EngemanTheater.com to purchase tickets or see a complete show schedule and what is up next at Long Island’s only year-round professional theater company.

 

Read online: www.villagetattler.com/anything-can-happen-magical-mary-poppins-northports-engeman-theater

Long Island Press Review: Mary Poppins: Holiday Extravaganza Opens at Engeman Theater

Long Island Press

December 2, 2016

Elise Pearlman

 

A holiday show is a genre all its own. It should tug on heartstrings and make the audiences smile, yet have music and glitz that fires up the imagination. The musical Mary Poppins, which recently opened at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, delivers all this and more.

Those looking to create lasting holiday memories with their families should partake of this show, which is truly an extravaganza. Theatergoers cannot ask for more in terms of engaging, family-friendly holiday entertainment.

The show is set in Edwardian London of the early 1900s. Something is sadly amiss at the home located at 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Members of the well-to-do Banks family are at odds with each other.

George Banks, the patriarch, is a stern, hands-off father, who espouses the philosophy that children should be seen and not heard. Having been raised by a nanny himself, George seeks an employee who will infuse his offspring, Jane and Michael, with “precision and order.” The children act out by tormenting the nannies with pranks and shenanigans until they quit.

All is not quiet on the marital front either. George is very concerned with status and insists that wife, Winifred, focus on getting into the right social circle even though it makes her uncomfortable.

Having lost their sixth nanny, George is set to advertise for a replacement. But Jane and Michael have a wish list of their own: a nanny who would play games with them, read stories and simply bring childhood wonder back into their lives.

In short order, Mary Poppins mysteriously appears on their doorstep. Mary immediately takes control, extoling her virtues as the quintessential nanny in the delightful song, “Practically Perfect.” She also astounds the children by taking all manner of things—including a hat rack—out of her carpet bag.

The story of Mary Poppins—the inspiration for the memorable Walt Disney movie—was originally part of a series of books written by P.L. Travers. The author, who did not have a very happy childhood, spun the idealistic tale of a nanny with magical powers to entertain her siblings. She based the Poppins character on an aunt who also possessed a seemingly bottomless carpet bag.

Jane and Michael often judge people by their appearances and Mary teaches them to look beneath the surface. While at first they see Bert, the happy-go-lucky chimney sweep as dirty, they find out that Bert, who will be part of many adventures, is very likeable, full of fun, and he and Mary are old friends.

Similarly, when they run into the Bird Woman, who ekes out a meager living selling bags of food for the pigeons in the park, they see her as simply a bundle of rags. As the old woman (Suzanne Mason) and Mary render their heart-rendering duet, “Feed the Birds,” the children realize that the Bird Woman is really a kindly soul who has devoted her life to bringing nourishment to the tiny winged creatures.

Stunning musical showstoppers abound. One of my favorites is the astoundingly enthusiastic “Jolly Holiday,” in which Mary, Bert and the children are joined by the entire ensemble and wow the audience with song and dance. The colorful costumes are a visual delight. This number elicited spontaneous applause.

An extremely humorous bit of slapstick occurs when Mrs. Brill, the cook (Linda Cameron) gives Robertson Ay (Danny Meglio) some simple instructions to carry out in preparation for Mrs. Banks’ socialite tea party and things go hilariously awry. The mishap is followed by the crowd-pleasing tune, “A Spoonful of Sugar.”

As an investment banker, George is not so commanding and self-assured as he is at home. Act I leaves the audience with two cliffhangers. George makes a decision to fund one of two business ventures and time will tell if he made the right choice. Then, unexpectedly, Mary leaves in order to see how the family fares without her input. As she soars above the silhouetted rooftops of London, the audience is left to wonder if the Banks family will ever learn to function as a family without her help.

Directed and choreographed with great finesse and attention to detail by Drew Humphrey, Mary Poppins delights on every level. Analisa Leaming, who boasts a plethora of impressive Broadway credits, is the ideal Mary. From her very first song, “Practically Perfect,” the audience will be wowed by her melodic voice which borders on the operatic. She is a sight to behold in Kurt Alger’s spot-on period costumes. Expect to be smitten.

Luke Hawkins, who plays Bert, has appeared in Xanadu and Cirque de Soleil on Broadway. His amiability makes him the perfect sidekick for Mary. He will tap dance his way into your heart in numbers like the showstopper, “Step in Time.”

Katherine LaFountain (Jane) and Christopher McKenna (Michael) are no newcomers to the Engeman stage. They both have incredible stage presence and can sing and dance with the best of them.

George and Winifred are played by David Schmittou and Liz Pearce, respectively. Although Mary Poppins appears on the scene to correct the damage caused to the children by these wayward parents, the fact that the parents eventually win the audience’s sympathy is a credit to their fine acting.

Major kudos to Kurt Alger for his outstanding costume and hair design, which are truly an eye-catching salute to the elegant finery of the early 1900s. Jason Simms’ scenic design, showcasing the landmark London clock tower, combined with Zach Blane’s lighting, makes for dramatic silhouetted nightscapes. The six piece band directed by Michael Hopewell does full justice to the music.

Mary Poppins runs through Dec. 31. Tickets can be purchased at the theater’s box office, 250 Main St, Northport, by calling 261-2900 or by visiting www.engemantheater.com.

 

Read online: www.longislandpress.com/2016/12/02/mary-poppins-holiday-extravaganza-opens-at-engeman-theater/

Long Islander Review: ‘Mary Poppins’ Rings In Holiday Season

The Long Islander

December 1, 2016

Janee Law

 

The stage of the John W. Engeman Theater is bringing an energetic performance to Northport Village this holiday season with the timeless and magical tale of “Mary Poppins.”

“I thought it was fantastic,” audience member Marianne Esolen, of Huntington, said after Saturday’s performance. “It was wonderfully uplifting and positive. It was a lovely night for families and a perfect pick for the holidays.”

Based on the classic children’s book series and Disney film, Engeman’s production of “Mary Poppins” is directed and choreographed by Drew Humphrey and musically directed by Michael Hopewell.

The cast features Analisa Leaming as Mary Poppins; Luke Hawkins as Bert; Liz Pearce as Winifred Banks; David Schmittou as George Banks; Katherine LaFountain as Jane Banks and Chris McKenna as Michael Banks.

There are unforgettable dance numbers and fan favorite songs like Academy Award-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” but the most entertaining number of the night was “Step in Time,” which demonstrated synchronized tap dancing and high energy performances that had the audience clapping along with the beat.

The cast delivered perfect European accents and demonstrated mannerisms of that of their characters from the film. For instance, Hawkins reflected Dick Van Dyke with his carefree performance of Bert, while Leaming reflected Julie Andrews with her operetta voice and feet pointing outward in her performance as Mary Poppins.

LaFountain and McKenna, who play the curious and sometimes mischievous children, both said their favorite scene to perform was “Step in Time.”

“I love the tap dancing and the energy is so great in it,” LaFountain said. “Kids our age usually don’t get to do stuff like this so it was really an honor to do it. I loved it.”

McKenna said he loved the opportunity to play Michael Banks, a “fun role.”

Esolen and Anne Paley, both of East Meadow, said “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Step in Time,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” and “Anything Can happen” were their favorite performances of the night.

“I always prefer seeing things live,” Esolen said. “The film is amazing, but to see it performed in our own local community and to hear all the enthusiasm and all the laughter in the audience is better than any film could be.”

Show times for “Mary Poppins” at John W. Engeman Theater (250 Main St., Northport) are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. The last performance is Dec. 31, with some Wednesday and Sunday evening tickets available. Tickets are $71-$76, and can be purchased at the box office, or at Engemantheater.com.

 

Read online: www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/mary-poppins-rings-in-holiday-season

Broadway World Review: A Practically Perfect MARY POPPINS At The Engeman

Broadway World

November 30, 2016

Melissa Giordano

 

Having a long run on Broadway from 2007 to 2013, it is safe to day that any incarnation of Mary Poppins will not disappoint even the most devoted fans. One thing is sure; this still remains one of the most popular tales to this day as confirmed by the enthusiastic, nearly sold out audience at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport. The iconic story’s musical adaptation, now playing through January 1st at the gorgeous Long Island venue, features an exceptional and spirited cast.

When attending the staged version – The Engeman’s wonderfully directed and choreographed by Drew Humphrey– you will see that it does not completely mirror the familiar 1964 P.L. Travers/Disney movie at several points. In typical fashion, things are added/taken out/expanded/moved around. Let me tell you, though, that the outstanding cast gets everything right.

Superbly leading the talented company is Broadway vet Analisa Leaming as Mary Poppins. As we know, things at the Banks household go awry at first when the mysterious and magical Mary is employed as a nanny for the Banks children. She and Mr. Banks – a very controlling man – have a difference of opinion in how to handle things like discipline; and they each don’t like to compromise much. It takes time for them to get on the same page but Mary, of course, ends up helping them become a closer unit.

Luke Hawkins portrays Bert, a jack-of-all trades who has known Mary for quite some time. Mr. Hawkins and Ms. Leaming are a fantastic team having many performances together in The Sherman Brothers score (with additional songs, music, and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe). Indeed, their great chemistry makes them well received. A rousing round of applause abounds particularly for “Step in Time” and the classic “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.

Also highlights are the children, Katherine LaFountain and Chris Mckenna, who portray the mischievous but well-meaning Jane and Michael Banks. They are in many of the numbers and are impressively on point throughout the show. Additionally, Liz Pearce, another Broadway vet, is excellent as Mrs. Banks. One of her performances, “Being Mrs. Banks”, is heartbreaking telling about the difficulties of her marriage to an overbearing husband.

On the creative team, scenic designer Jason Simms admirably delivers. The moveable pieces and flying sequences are enhanced stunningly by Zach Blane‘s lighting and Laura Shubert’s splendid sound design. Additionally, devout fans will be very pleased with Kurt Alger’s costumes as they well adhere to the movie incarnation. There is also a remarkable orchestra headed up by Musical Director Michael Hopewell.

It is no surprise, really, that Mary Poppins is ideally achieved at the John W. Engeman Theatre. While some may have argued that the material is not “practically perfect”, my advice would be to see this production “spit spot” as a top notch cast and creative team – and an iconic story – make for a delightful night of theatre.

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Mary Poppins is presented at the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through January 1st, 2017. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney film, Original Music & Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman, Additional songs, music, and lyrics by George Stiles& Anthony Drewe, Book by Julian Fellowes, Produced by Richard Dolce, Directed & Choreographed by Drew Humphrey (Engeman Theater: Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Chorus Line, et. al.), Musical Direction by Michael Hopewell (NYC: Once We Lived Here (U.S. Premiere), Billy Bishop Goes to War). Scenic Design by Jason Simms, Costume & Wig Design by Kurt Alger, Lighting design by Zach Blane, Sound Design by Laura Shubert, Casting by Gayle Seay and Scott Wojcik of Wojcik/Seay Casting, Props Design by Kristie Moschetta, Stage Management by Sean Francis Patrick

Starring Analisa Leaming (Broadway: The King and I, On the Twentieth Century), Luke Hawkins (Broadway: Xanadu, Cirque du Soleil, Banana Shpeel), Liz Pearce (Broadway: Billy Elliot; National Tours: Little Shop of Horrors, Jesus Christ Superstar, Seussical); David Schmittou (Engeman: A Christmas Story); Katherine LaFountain, Chris Mckenna, Matthew Baker, Charles Baran, Luca Bergin, Jane Blass, Chris Brand, Linda Cameron, Samantha Carroll, Dena DiGiacinto, Sophia Guarnaschelli, Alicia Hemann, Becky Grace Kalman, Sophia Kekllas, Oren Korenblum, Ben Russell-Lynch, Suzanne Mason, Meaghan Cinnes, Danny Meglio, Courtney Moran, Peter Surace, Bronwyn Tarboton, Moore Theobald, Michael Verre, and Jacqueline Winslow

 

Read online: www.broadwayworld.com/long-island/article/BWW-Review-A-Practically-Perfect-MARY-POPPINS-At-The-Engeman

The Observer Review: Uplifting flight into Northport for Mary Poppins & company

The Observer

November 24, 2016

David Ambro

 

What Julie Andrews brought to the iconic role of Mary Poppins in the 1964 movie version, Analisa Leaming brings to the role in the production that opened at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport last week.

Mrs. Leaming, who was swarmed by the children of the cast when she arrived at the cast party after the opening-night performance Saturday, November 19, is the perfect Mary Poppins. She looks the part and boy can she sing.

During a pre-performance interview, Ms. Leaming said Mary Poppins is a “big sing” for her, and it is a sing in which she comes up big. She has an angelic voice with great range that allows her to capture the spirit of Feed the Birds and the excitement of A Spoonful of Sugar and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Much the same can be said for Luke Hawkins as Bert, Mary Poppins’ lighthearted and magical chimney sweep sidekick. Bert is a role made famous on the screen 52 years ago by Dick Van Dyke, and it is a role made unforgettable by Mr. Hawkins on the Engeman stage with his rendition with the ensemble of Step in Time, a tap-dance spectacular that was an audience and cast favorite.

Described in a word, this show is uplifting.

“I think it turned out beautifully,” said director and choreographer Drew Humphrey during an interview after the press-night show Saturday, November 19. Asked about his favorite part of the show, Mr. Humphrey thought for a short moment, and like many other chose the tap-dance extravaganza Step in Time.

“It is a story that everyone can relate to. Everyone has experienced some problems when they come home to their family and it is not working right and I think this show does a wonderful job of telling people that dealing with their problems is not impossible.”

Mr. Humphrey said there are high expectations when you take on a show like Mary Poppins. “Whenever you are dealing with source material that is iconic as this is, there is a pressure to do it justice. If you stay true to it and approach it honestly and approach it with love, you set yourself up for success,” he said.

David Schmittou, who plays George Banks, the strict and high-strung father of the children in Mary Poppins’ care, is a veteran of the Engeman stage, having performed in A Christmas Story. During an interview after the show Saturday he said he loves the Engeman Theater and has a fondness for this show, having performed Mr. Banks twice before.

“I love this show,” he said. “I think it is a great story. I’ve loved the story since I was a kid and saw the movie.”

“It is my second experience at the Engeman and I think it is a fantastic experience,” said Mr. Schmittou, who resides in New Jersey. “It’s great, and I think that the story had such an appeal to me as a kid but as an adult is also has appeal to me too because of the family dynamic and the stage show.”

Mr. Schmittou said the favorite part of his role was fixing the family, when he comes out of his stern character at the end and celebrates the Banks coming together as a family unit. It’s a fun scene, where he kicks up his heels and breaks into dance with Bert.

“The family drops the walls that are going up and comes together as a family,” he said. “Mary Poppins heals the family. I don’t want to give too much away for anybody who hasn’t seen it, but it is about the family.”

Although he is not on stage for it, Mr. Schmittou said his favorite part of the show is Step in Time. “I stand in the wings and watch it every night. That is truly a show stopping number,” he said.

“If my wife and I were season ticket holders here and we came to see this show, the first thing we would do is call my brothers and sisters and say get all of the children, nieces and nephews, and take them to see this show,” said theater owner Kevin O’Neill. “That’s what this should be. This is a family show if ever there was one.”

“It’s not a Christmas oriented show, it’s not a holiday show, but overall it’s a show for family that’s tough to beat,” Mr. O’Neill said. “We’re bringing our booster seats out, because the little ones are coming.”

Katherine LaFountain, of Bayport, who plans Jane Banks, one of the children in Mary Poppins’ care, said it has been inspirational to work with Ms. Leaming. “She has done things on Broadway and she is a great role model for me,” Katherine said.

“I think it went very well, and I love this show so much,” Katherine said.

Like many of the others, Katherine said Step in Time is her favorite part of the show. “It is the most beautiful thing to watch and I love tap-dancing,” she said. “So, it’s so fun.”

Christopher McKenna, of Syosset, who plays Michael Banks, said he is really excited to be in the cast because it is his first big role. “My favorite part is Perfect Nanny because it’s me and Jane’s song. I just loved it because it’s our first big scene,” Christopher said.

While Step in Time was a show stopper and an audience favorite, another audience favorite, mine as well, is Feed the Birds, a duet by Ms. Leaming, as Mary Poppins, and the Bird Woman, played by Suzanne Mason. Although this is her only song in the show, Ms. Mason makes it something very special with her angelic voice that shines in concert with Ms. Leaming.

While Step in Time and Feed the Birds are audience favorites, Mary Poppins at the Engeman captures, with great authenticity, the iconic classics in this magical fairy tale. It’s a must see, another stellar example of how the Engeman brings Broadway to Main Street.

For tickets, visit the box office at 250 Main Street, Northport, call the box office at 631-261-2900 or order online at engemantheater.com.

 

 

Times of Huntington-Northport Review: ‘Mary Poppins’ is the spoonful of sugar we all need right now

Times Beacon Record

November 23, 2016

Melissa Arnold

 

Sometimes, looking at life through a child’s eyes again makes everything better.

That’s exactly the opportunity you’re given in “Mary Poppins,” which kicked off a six-week run at the John Engeman Theater in Northport this week. And boy, is it a treat.

The Engeman Theater has a reputation for pulling out all the stops for its shows, and “Mary Poppins” definitely reaps those benefits with a stunning, colorful background, detailed scenery and a cast of seasoned professionals, many of whom spent time on Broadway.

Directed and choreographed by Drew Humphrey, this show is a Disney classic, with all the heartwarming moments and magical touches you’d expect. Set in early 1900s London, “Mary Poppins” gives a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy Banks family — workaholic husband George, his doting wife Winifred and their adorable-yet-mischievous children, Jane and Michael.

Try as they might, the Bankses can’t seem to find a nanny who will stick around – it might have something to do with the kids’ constant pranks and stubbornness. But Jane and Michael meet their match when Mary Poppins shows up from who knows where. Without any negotiation, she invites herself into their home and begins to work some real magic. Along the way, she introduces them to a host of quirky, mysterious characters that teach them about what’s really important in life.

The story’s unofficial narrator is Bert (Luke Hawkins), a charming chimney sweep with a deep affection for Mary Poppins and the Banks children. Hawkins will have you smiling the minute he takes the stage, and his appearances will tug on your heartstrings throughout the show. His tap dancing skills in “Step in Time” will leave you breathless. Mary Poppins is played by Analisa Leaming, a newcomer to the Engeman stage with several Broadway credits under her belt. Leaming plays Poppins with all the poise and grace the role demands, with lovely, light vocals even on the highest notes. She also deserves a nod for the slight-of-hand tricks she performs throughout the show, maintaining character even during a rare moment when her props won’t cooperate.

Katherine LaFountain and Christopher McKenna play the Banks children with endless enthusiasm and joy. Both have an obvious love for the stage and there is nothing forced about their performances. You’ll fall in love with them both during “The Perfect Nanny” and “Practically Perfect,” two examples of their fantastic teamwork.

The special effects in “Mary Poppins” are what make the show truly great. Children in the audience might actually believe that Mary’s bag can fit anything, that she can instantly make sandwiches from a loaf of bread, or that she can even fly. Seeing her take flight with that famous umbrella is the highlight of the show.

The show’s set can rotate, expand and retract, which allows for easy transitions between several unique locations. The background is perhaps the most eye-catching element, however, with the London sky in silhouette and a colorful, illuminated sky that can create sunsets, nightscapes and even some psychedelic schemes.

Many of the supporting cast members are also worth a mention. In particular, George Banks’ childhood nanny Miss Andrew (Jane Blass) commands the stage during her brief performance. She has so much swagger and authority that when she’s called “the holy terror,” you’ll believe it in an instant. Also, the “bird woman,” played by Suzanne Mason, delivers a performance of “Feed the Birds” that’s both touching and haunting.

The ensemble has a huge role to play in “Mary Poppins.” Whether they’re seamlessly helping with set changes as chimney sweeps, tap dancing or serving as any number of whimsical creatures, they are an essential part of the show and every bit as talented as the lead actors. In fact, their performance in “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious” and “Step in Time” are among the most impressive of the entire show. The two children’s ensembles, which will rotate throughout the show’s run, should be commended for their hard work and flawless routines.

While the band isn’t visible or credited at any point in the show, they do a flawless job in presenting songs from the original movie as well as many that were written for the stage version. Under the direction of Michael Hopewell, the band consists of keyboard, bass, drums and a variety of woodwind and brass instruments.

All told, “Mary Poppins” is exactly the joyful, inspiring tale so many of us seek out during the holidays. While it’s not a holiday-themed production, the theater is beautifully decorated for the season, and you can enjoy the occasional Christmas song and a festive drink at the piano bar before showtime.

Take a few hours this holiday season to leave your cares behind and gather the family for a night of laughter. You’ll be glad you did.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Mary Poppins” through Dec. 31. Run time is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. Ticket prices vary from $71 to $76. To purchase tickets, call 631-261-2900.

Read online: www.tbrnewsmedia.com/mary-poppins-is-the-spoonful-of-sugar-we-all-need-right-now/

 

Smithtown Matters Review: MARY POPPINS

Smithtown Matters

November 21, 2016

Jeb Ladouceur

 

Sooner or later, it seems, every theatrical organization gets a crack at ‘Mary Poppins’—and now through New Year’s Eve, it’s The Engeman’s turn. Actually the timing couldn’t be more fortuitous for locals, because with the exception of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ (currently playing its standard holiday gig forty minutes east in Port Jefferson) the whimsical story of the magical nanny created on film by Julie Andrews might be the perfect show for kids of all ages during the holiday season!

If that sounds like overstatement, theatergoers simply have to see the enchanting Analisa Leaming for themselves. If ever a stage actress was perfectly cast as the ultimate au pair, it’s Leaming!

We all know the story immortalized by the 1964 Disney movie … governess-type Mary Poppins shows up at the privileged London home of little Jane and Michael Banks, where she wows the obstreperous children by introducing them to amazing chimneysweeps, mind boggling shopkeepers, dancing statues, and other unforgettable characters who quickly win the youngsters’ hearts.

The film about kids largely denied affection by their father (a la ‘Sound of Music’) was a natural for the stage, thus it opened on Broadway in 2006 … and ran there for seven years!

Granted, ‘Mary Poppins’ is not a jolly holiday show in the manner of ‘White Christmas’ or Dickens’ classic story fashioned around old ‘Ebenezer Scrooge,’ but it’s an appealing tale of childhood whimsy nonetheless, and as such, the narrative qualifies as an appropriately festive offering at this celebratory time of year.

Mary is named ‘Poppins’ because she just shows up magically from time to time—that is to say, she just ‘pops in’—get it? And though she’s the undisputed star of the show, ‘Bert,’ the wonderful singing, dancing Chimneysweep, who essentially is the musical’s narrator, complements the dazzling Mary expertly with clever and revealing dialogue. In fact ‘Bert’ (Luke Hawkins) delivers one of the most spot-on lines in the play when he tells Mary, “You’re a sight for sore eyes.” Because Leaming sure is, folks! The slender, statuesque woman is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s difficult to imagine any young lady looking better in an Edwardian outfit. Those stunning turn-of-the-20th century walking suits and high-button shoes seem to have been designed with Analisa Leaming in mind.

Striking, too, are all of the ensemble’s colorful pastel costumes designed by Kurt Alger. Mary stands out, of course, in her red, blue, white, or black outfits (she seems to change every ten minutes or so), and even the drab clothing of the dowdy ‘Bird Woman,’ (so poignantly interpreted by Suzanne Mason,) is appropriate in its dreary contrast to the leading lady’s finery.

The starring children in this play are ‘Jane and Michael Banks,’ played by Katherine LaFountain and Christopher McKenna. They are on stage virtually non-stop, and do a fine job in their taxing roles. One notable youngster, who appears less frequently, is Sophia Eleni Kekllas. She plays a come-to-life doll named ‘Valentine.’ Sophia exhibits all the tools necessary for future stardom; indeed her superb stage presence is obvious despite her brief role and tender years. Someone has guided the gifted child’s early career with first-rate insight.

There are two magnificent production numbers in this endearing musical, and they are entirely different in style and execution. One is the tongue-twisting ‘Super-cali-fragilistic-expiali-docious,’ (hyphens added here) which is skillfully sung, and cleverly choreographed with colorful alphabet blocks. The other is ‘Step In Time.” It’s a show-stopping piece wherein ‘Bert,’ ‘Mary,’ and the ‘Banks Children’ join fifteen ‘Chimneysweeps’ in a rousing, perfectly timed tap dance extravaganza.

If there’s anything not to like in this Drew Humphrey-directed show, I don’t know what it would be. Maybe a few encores could be added. That would have delighted the sold-out crowd who stood and cheered last weekend … as Mary Poppins flew down from the midnight London sky with her umbrella … and took her well-deserved bows.

 

Read online at: www.smithtownmatters.com/long-island-theater/

DC Metro Theater Arts Review: ‘Mary Poppins’ at The John W. Engeman Theater

DC Metro Theater Arts

November 21, 2016

Kristen Weyer

 

Everyone’s favorite high-flying nanny has landed at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport! Mary Poppins will be playing until the wind changes on December 31, 2016. The script, based on both the books by P.L. Travers and the 1964 Disney movie, was written by Julian Fellowes, whose repertoire also includes Downton Abbey. Directed and choreographed by Drew Humphrey, Mary Poppins is sure to delight audiences of all ages.

The endearing storyline of Mary Poppins is a familiar one to most of us. The Banks family requires a nanny for their two rambunctious children, but gets more than they bargained for in Mary Poppins. She proceeds to not only take care of the children, but to fix the entire family. Few, besides the very young, have not heard of the magical flying nanny who can fix any problem with a “Spoonful of Sugar” and a spit-spot!

Intriguingly, the underlying tone of this play is slightly darker than its movie predecessor. The members of the Banks family are here portrayed as realistic people with actual, serious problems. While previously, Jane (Katherine LaFountain) and Michael (Christopher McKenna) were merely attention starved children with an unfortunate penchant for mischief, here they are frequently selfish and rude.

Mr. Banks (David Schmittou) who we all knew as distracted and overworked, is now a truly angry man wounded by the scars of his own childhood. Also is our lovable, if air-headed suffragette, Mrs. Banks (Liz Pearce). In her place is a competent, intelligent woman struggling with her desires to be a caregiver to her own children, and how to best help a husband who doesn’t see what she is capable of. Don’t let this alarm you. What this does is add a substance to the plot that wasn’t there before. If anything, the added solemnity makes for a more heartwarming ending as we see the journey they were on to become a true family, as she sings in the very moving “Being Mrs. Banks.” Not to worry, all of your favorite aspects are still present, dancing penguins included.

And then there is scene-stealer Jane Blass, as the very scary and hilarious Miss Andrew, who wreaks havock as she tries to replace Mary Poppins. Her showstopping “Brimstone and Treacle.”

The cast does marvelously in every aspect. The talented ensemble twirls, taps, and sings their way through number after number with never flagging energy. Analisa Leaming is the perfect Mary Poppins, as we hear from her opening number “Practically Perfect.” Her beautiful voice and on-point characterization are everything you hope for from the iconic flying nanny.

Luke Hawkins makes a charming Bert, and brilliantly performs an impressive tap number during “Step in Time.” David Schmittou and Liz Pearce have a nice chemistry together, portraying believable emotion and giving the audience a couple worth rooting for. Katherine La Fountain and Christopher McKenna both impress as Jane and Michael. They are each fantastic young actors with delightful voices. An added comedic bonus are the household servants Mrs. Brill and Robertson Ay, humorously played by Linda Cameron and Danny Meglio.

The cast are certainly not alone in deserving accolades. With his practical, yet whimsical set design, Jason Simms adds to the fun and magic of the plot.  Likewise, Kurt Alger’s stunning and intricate costume designs continually impress.

The band, under direction from Michael Hopewell, beautifully performed tunes both familiar and new. While each recognizable song was eagerly anticipated, the unknown newer pieces were also very enjoyable. In fact, along with classics from Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman such as “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” come a whole cluster of new songs. Written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the new additions to the score will have you humming all the way home.

With its soaring melodies, enthusiastic dances and ultimate messages of love and perseverance, Mary Poppins is a must see for the whole family.  It reminds us that “anything can happen if you let it.”

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

Mary Poppins plays through December 31, 2016, at The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport – 250 Main Street, in Northport, NY. For tickets call the box office at (631) 261-2900, or purchase them online.

 

Read online at: www.dcmetrotheaterarts.com/mary-poppins/

The John W. Engeman Theater presents MARY POPPINS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Northport, NY- October 2016) – The John W. Engeman Theater announces the cast and creative team for MARY POPPINS. Performances begin on Thursday, November 17 at 8:00pm and run through Saturday, December 31, 2016.

Celebrate the holiday season with MARY POPPINS! Based on the classic Disney film, this is the story of a mysterious nanny who magically appears at the Banks household in Edwardian London to care for Jane and Michael Banks. Adventure abounds as she whisks them away to meet dancing chimney sweeps, shopkeepers and an array of colorful characters. Featuring an irresistible story, breathtaking dance numbers and beloved songs such as the Academy Award-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds,” “Step in Time” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” audiences will have a “Jolly Holiday” with Mary and discover a world where “Anything Can Happen” if you let it.
MARY POPPINS is directed and choreographed by DREW HUMPHREY (Engeman Theater: Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Chorus Line, White Christmas (Choreographer)) and musically directed by MICHAEL HOPEWELL (NYC: Once We Lived Here (U.S. Premiere), Billy Bishop Goes to War (Starring Dan Butler), Rent).

 

The Creative Team includes: JASON SIMMS (Scenic Design), KURT ALGER (Costume and Wig Design), ZACH BLANE (Lighting Design), LAURA SHUBERT (Sound Design), GAYLE SEAY and SCOTT WOJCIK of WOJCIK/SEAY CASTING (Casting Directors), KRISTIE MOSCHETTA (Props Design), and SEAN FRANCIS PATRICK (Production Stage Manager).

 

MARY POPPINS is produced by RICHARD DOLCE the Engeman Theater’s Producing Artistic Director.

 

The cast of MARY POPPINS features ANALISA LEAMING as Mary Poppins (Broadway: The King and I, On the Twentieth Century); LUKE HAWKINS as Bert (Broadway: Xanadu, Cirque du Soleil, Banana Shpeel); LIZ PEARCE as Winifred Banks (Broadway: Billy Elliot; National Tours: Little Shop of Horrors, Jesus Christ Superstar, Seussical); DAVID SCHMITTOU as George Banks (Engeman: A Christmas Story); KATHERINE LAFOUNTAIN as Jane Banks and CHRIS MCKENNA as Michael Banks.

The cast also includes: MATTHEW BAKER, CHARLES BARAN, LUCA BERGIN, JANE BLASS, CHRIS BRAND, LINDA CAMERON, SAMANTHA CARROLL, DENA DIGIACINTO, SOPHIA GUARNASCHELLI, ALICIA HEMANN, BECKY GRACE KALMAN, SOPHIA KEKLLAS, OREN KORENBLUM, BEN RUSSELL-LYNCH, SUZANNE MASON, MEAGHAN MCINNES, DANNY MEGLIO, COURTNEY MORAN, PETER SURACE, BRONWYN TARBOTON, MOORE THEOBALD, MICHAEL VERRE and JACQUELINE WINSLOW.

Press Opening is Saturday, November 19th at 8:00pm

 

MARY POPPINS will play the following performance schedule: Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00.  Some Wednesday and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $76 on Saturday evenings, $71 all other performances and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at www.EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.  Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted.

 

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is Long Island’s only year round professional theater company, casting actors from the Broadway talent pool. From curb to curtain, we have made it our business to provide affordable, quality, theater in an elegant one-of-a-kind location with outstanding facilities and extraordinary service. The renovated Theater offers stadium-style seating, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, a full orchestra pit, and a classic wood-paneled piano lounge with full bar.

 

For a complete show schedule and more information contact the theater directly at 631-261-2900, visit the box office at 250 Main Street, Northport or visit www.EngemanTheater.com

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