MARY POPPINS to Land at Hale Centre Theatre Tomorrow, 6/13-8/9

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MARY POPPINS to Land at Hale Centre Theatre Tomorrow, 6/13-8/9

The world's most perfect nanny is dropping in to Hale Centre Theatre (HCT) in a show with lavish sets, elegant costumes and awe-inspiring music and choreography. Mary Poppins and her no-nonsense approach to child care will play at Hale, Utah's Premiere Family Theatre tomorrow, June 13, through Saturday, August 9.

The beloved musical tells the fanciful story of the impeccable nanny, Mary Poppins, who helps bring the disconnected Banks family together. "This show will blow people away," said Director John Sweeney.

"Each scene has its own level of magic and self-contained story," he said. "Whether the cast is singing in the park or trying to help the medicine go down with a 'Spoonful of Sugar', you have the story of the family coming together from start to finish. And the way the musical is written allows us to explore the characters more deeply as well."

Because of HCT's center-stage design, the set design from the Broadway show had to be rethought. Set designer Kacey Udy said they used the stage's moving platforms to help change the scenes, but also had to keep things as open as possible for the performers to dance.

"We had a real challenge creating lavish costumes and sets that could help tell the story without overshadowing it," Udy said. "It has lots of magic and illusions with things popping out of Mary Poppins' bag, and statues and toys coming to life, and a full-size carousel. It's a spectacle, but we wanted to make sure it also helped establish the character of Mary Poppins."

Although the stage production shows a more stern side of Mary Poppins, the charm and whimsy audiences love is still there. Part of that is the incredible choreography, and what Sally Dietlein, the theatre's vice president and artistic director, said are the best dancers Hale has ever cast.

To bring the magic, the theatre also had to add an entirely new track system for Mary Poppins to fly. The theatre has been installing the two-ton system in the catwalk for the last two months during the day while Arsenic and Old Lace and LES MISERABLES played in the evenings.

Brittany Sanders, one of the two actors double cast as Mary Poppins, said she's been very excited to get to fly, but just being cast as Mary was a thrill. Saying she was "humbled, excited and a little overwhelmed" when she learned she was cast, Sanders took the role to heart and found a happy medium between the severe Mary Poppins of the book and the more loving version Julie Andrews played.

"She's strict, but we've found the twinkle in her eye," she said.

Hale Centre Theatre's Mary Poppins is directed by Sweeney and features Sanders and Kimberly Bunker as Mary Poppins; David Smith and Geoff Reynolds as Bert; Doug Irey and Mark Knowles as Mr. George Banks; Michelle Blake and Dianna Graham as Mrs. Winifred Banks; Abigail Edwards and Maggie Scott as Jane Banks; and Anson Bagley and Cairo McGee as Michael Banks. Choreography is by Jenny Barlow, set design by Udy, costume design by Louise Pascoe, music direction by Kelly DeHaan, sound design by Dan Morgan, lighting design by Adam Flitton, properties by Michelle Jensen and hair and make-up design by Trisha Ison.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, June 13 to August 9, with Saturday matinees at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. and several weekday matinees at 4 p.m. There will also be special 9 a.m. performances for children ages 3 and older on June 28, July 12 and 19, and August 2. There are no performances on July 4 or 24. Admission is $32 for adults and $16 for children ages 5 to 11. Tickets may be purchased online at www.hct.org, via telephone at (801) 984-9000, or at the Hale Centre Theatre box office, 3333 South Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City.

In conjunction with the production, HCT is honoring the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake as part of its "HCT Applauds" program to spotlight other non-profit organizations making a difference in the community. The Boys and Girls Clubs strive to inspire and enable the youth in their communities to become caring and responsible individuals through participation in enriching activities within a safe environment.

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