Catch ‘Mary Poppins’ flying through town through Saturday

By Becca Postma
Special to The PREVIEW

It’s not too late to catch the magic of “Mary Poppins” live on stage here in Pagosa Springs. The Pagosa Springs High School (PSHS) Performing Arts Department’s production of “Mary Poppins” is in town for three more shows.

This fast-paced and fun-filled show opened on Tuesday, March 21, and will run until Saturday, March 25. The show tackles all three of the traditional “big” challenges of live theater: children, special effects and dogs. Sure, the dog may be a puppet, but the all the rest are the real deal.

As always, it takes an army to produce a musical of the high caliber and quality that we have grown accustomed to in Pagosa. With a cast of 35 high school students, two junior high apprentices and eight younger children, this is one of the largest casts to take over the stage for a high school show in recent years. Add to that number the 13 high school student members of the tech and backstage crew, two students playing in the live pit orchestra, joined by 15 volunteering community musicians, a production staff of six, and numerous parent and community volunteers helping with everything from costumes to tickets to concessions, and the number of total people involved in the production easily tops 100.

And, the numbers don’t stop there. “Mary Poppins” is a huge show, in all respects of the word. In act one alone, there are 14 scenes and over 12 musical numbers. Act two comes in barely under the former at 12 scenes, but with just as many songs.

Dan Burch, the production’s musical director, teams up with wife Venita Burch, as the show’s rehearsal pianist and vocal coach, to keep the music coming. Simultaneously conducting the 15-plus-person orchestra and directing the singers in their cues, Dan Burch keeps the flow of the show moving.

Dressing the 40-plus-person cast for the plethora of musical numbers requires over 200 costumes, all organized by the show’s costumer, Trace Gross. The sets, designed jointly by Director/Choreographer Becca Postma, and the show’s construction head, Kurt Laverty, are fairly complex. The rigorous scene order of the production has the intrepid backstage crew, led by PSHS senior Addie Thompson as the stage manager, completing approximately 20 scene changes throughout the show at a surprisingly quick speed for the number of pieces moving. With nearly 15 microphones being shared between the cast of actors, several sound effects and approximately 200 lighting cues, the student tech crew, led by Jesse Laverty as light master, McKenna Moore as sound master and Kyle Garcia as sound crew head, is kept hopping almost as much backstage as the actors are on stage.

Finally, Mary’s magical effects are the result of planning, ingenuity, teamwork and some sacrifice of physical comfort on the part of the cast and crew. Any of the three lucky students who take to the air with the help of a specialized fly rig will be the first to tell you that the sacrifice is worth it for the joy of performance and the creation of their art. The flying effects, presented through a professional rigging company, would not have been possible without the generous donations and support of the Pagosa community. Support of the arts is alive and well in our small town, and phenomenal production that these students have prepared is proof of that.

So, come on out to see the show and support the performing arts and in our community. You won’t want to miss this exciting, family-friendly, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious musical.

The show runs three more nights, from Thursday, March 23, through Saturday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at the PSHS auditorium. Tickets are $10 at the door. We hope to see you there.

This story was posted on March 23, 2017.