FRIDAY 5 (+1) on Thursday: MARY POPPINS' Beverly Grant & Teal Davis
It's yet another opening night at The Larry Keeton Theatre in Donelson, as co-directors Jamie London and Noah Rice unveil the company's latest: Mary Poppins the Musical. Featuring a cast of more than 40 actors, it's the last production of The Keeton's 2016-17 season.
Two of Mary Poppins' talented cast members - Beverly Grant and TeAl Davis - found a spot of time in the midst of hell week to give us some insight into their creative process and to offer some reasons why you should make reservations to see their show in today's edition of Friday 5 (+1).
Beverly Grant (Miss Andrew)
What was your first "live onstage" taste of theatre? I was an only child, so I can remember putting on my own musicals in front of stuffed animals as early as five years old. The cat was the only breathing patron in attendance. Third grade music class gave me the first opportunity to be live onstage with one of my friends. We dressed as hobos, sang "Side By Side" and wrote our own script to make it a full scene. We were a hit and I understood how much fun it was to make people laugh. My first high school production was Mame. I was in the chorus, but as far as I was concerned, it was Broadway.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Humming the Star Trek TV theme is my vocal warm up (don't laugh until you try it). After I stretch a bit, props are triple checked and I read my lines and review my songs. Even though it's more of a superstition than ritual, I have a tassel somewhere on my costume for every show. Part of pre-show is to make sure it's there.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? Picture it - I was playing Lucy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. It was opening night, the reviewer was in the house and I got a case of the hiccups. I don't hiccup in a ladylike manner. I sound like a drunk ready to pitch her cookies and you can hear me a block away. I drank water, I held my breath and people tried to scare me, but it only got worse. I hiccupped (is that even a word?) the entire first act through every song and just acted as if it was supposed to happen. The reviewer never mentioned it, and trust me, she should have. It took years off my life.
What's your dream role? I'm finally old enough to play Berthe from Pippin or Madame Armfeldt from A Little Night Music. Either would that be a blast.
Who is your theatrical crush? I have two dear friends who kick butt as actors, so I crush on anything they do. Cherry Jones is a lifelong friend from high school (go Paris, Tennessee!) and Jane Blass, a college buddy who knows what character acting is all about. Both of these women work very hard at their craft and raise the bar of excellence each time they grace the stage.
Why should people come see Mary Poppins? With all the negativity in the universe, why wouldn't you take advantage of an opportunity to relive a classic story like Mary Poppins? Come on, it's MARY POPPINS! Seriously, the cast is made up of talented young people along with some seasoned ones (notice I didn't say old) who want to coach up a new generation of performers. Community theatre is all about learning from each other and having the opportunity to pass along some joy to every audience. Everyone needs a brief escape from whatever is going on outside the theatre. There's so much fun going on in this show, you'll have to come back several times to catch it all.
TeAl Davis (Bert understudy/ensemble)
What was your first "live onstage" taste of theatre? My first taste of theatre was as "Bongo" in the show Surfs Up, which is a musical written around the best of The Beach Boys' music! Even though the show didn't make much sense, I was hooked on performing from then on. Even though I do remember a pretty groovy version of "Barbara Anne" in that show!
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? My favorite pre-show ritual is one 8 oz. Red Bull and reading my script while listening to my favorite music. Then, I'll say a very quick prayer and walk out onstage!
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? I was the "Artful Dodger" in Trevecca's performance of Oliver the musical. I had a dance with Amanda Creech who played Nancy. While we were dancing, her skirt unlatches and starts to fall down. We continued dancing as I held her skirt together with my right hand for the rest of the entire song! I'll never forget that!
What's your dream role? My Dream role is to be J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying! It was one of the first shows that I saw when I was in New York for the first time! I remember seeing Nick Jonas perform the role and I fell in love with the witty humor of the show!
Who is your theatrical crush? Sutton Foster forever. I honestly don't believe I have one but I have plenty from the past! It was Amelia Little for my first ever show (in high school) and then a few I've blocked from my mind. I've tried my best since getting to college to keep my theatrical relationships professional. Wink
EXTRA-SPECIAL BONUS ROUND QUESTION: Why should people come see your show? The magic of Mary Poppins, in general. I believe the way that our leads present their characters and the way the show comes together at Larry Keeton Theatre is a fantastic thing to see! So much hard work in this show and so many reasons to see it!
Editor's Note: Davis will be taking on the role of Bert in the June 18, 24, 29 and 30 performances.
About the show: Adelaide Leonard, nominated for one of the 2017 Spotlight Awards (the Nashville High School Musical Theatre Award presented May 13), has won the coveted title role in the upcoming production of Mary Poppins, slated for this June at The Larry Keeton Theatre in Donelson. Joining her onstage in the role of chimney sweep Bert is Keeton Theatre favorite Austin Jeffrey Smith.
The Larry Keeton Theatre recently was named as one of the top ten venues in Tennessee for live theater, ranking alongside the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and Knoxville's Tennessee Theatre among the best in the Volunteer State. It is part of the Senior Center for the Arts at FiftyForward Donelson Station, located at 108 Donelson Pike in Nashville.
Mary Poppins, based on the P.L. Travers book that was adapted into the hit 1964 Disney film that blended animation with live action photography, opens June 15, running through July 1. Music is by Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman and George Stiles, with lyrics by the Shermans and Anthony Drewe. The musical's book is by Academy Award-winning Julian Fellowes, the creator of the wildly popular PBS series Downton Abbey.
Co-directed by Jamie London and Noah Rice (who serves double-duty as musical director), Mary Poppins will be choreographed by Melissa Carlson. London, Rice and Carlson first worked together last summer in Cabaret, in which Rice appeared as the Emcee and Carlson was a Kit-Kat Girl, under London's direction. For the upcoming production, Jim Manning is scenic designer, with Allen Stokes as sound designer. Suzanne Spooner-Faulk is production stage manager and properties designer. London, who is the artistic director of the Senior Center for the Arts at FiftyForward Donelson Station, home of the Keeton Theatre, will produce.
Leonard, a recent graduate of Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy, will take on the role of the "practically perfect in every way" nanny in Mary Poppins, with Smith as the dashing and dancing chimney sweep. Most recently, he has been seen in My Fair Lady, Annie Get Your Gun and Cabaret at The Keeton, and was production stage manager for its most recent hit Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got the Will?
Natalie Royal, last seen as Evalita in Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got the Will? at The Keeton, is cast as Winifred Banks, with Chris Cavin, last seen in My Fair Lady, cast as her husband, George.
Autumn Tustin will understudy Leonard, as well as appearing as Miss Smythe; understudying Smith will be TeAl Davis, who will also play the Park Keeper and John Northbrook; and understudying Royal will be Angela Calcaterra, who will also play Miss Lark.
Jane Banks will be played by Gentry Wooten, with M.L. Graves cast as Michael Banks. Austin Reeves will play Robertson Ay, with Kat Boettcher as Mrs. Brill and the Birdwoman, Bevery Grant as Miss Andrew; Larry Rhodes as the Bank Chairman. Other cast members include Katie Earl, Matt Earnest, Earl Landree, Karolline Winchester, Stephanie Williams, Riley Hughes, Maggie Jackson, Aspyn Freeman, Sarah Beth Barlow, Julia Walker, Tricia Clare Griffin, ElizaBeth Beasley, Lucas Blair, KennaLee Davis, Hayden Williams and Cary Street.
Tickets for Mary Poppins - as well as season tickets for The Keeton Theatre's 2017-18 season, which includes Big River, South Pacific, Winter Wonderettes, 9 to 5: The Musical, West Side Story in Concert and Annie - are available by calling the box office at (615) 883-8375 or online at www.thelarrykeetontheatre.org.