Friday, April 29, 2016

Mary Poppins Auditions!

Looking for more information about this summer's community theater musical, Mary Poppins? We've got you covered! 

Performances July 28, 29 & 30, 2016 at 7:00pm
St. James High School Little Theater

About Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins is a musical based on the book series by P.L. Travers of the same name and, more notably, the 1964 musical film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The stage show features many of the original songs made famous by the Oscar-winning duo of Richard and Robert Sherman, with additional music and lyrics from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe respectively, and a book by Julian Fellowes, creator for the television series Downton Abbey. This "practically perfect" musical delighted Broadway audiences for over 2,500 performances and received nominations for nine Olivier and seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The jack-of-all trades, Bert, introduces us to England in 1910 and the troubled Banks family. Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorstep. Using a combination of magic and common sense, she must teach the family how to value each other again. Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures, but Jane and Michael aren't the only ones she has a profound effect upon. Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that "anything can happen if you let it."

The stage adaptation comes with a few minor changes from the film (it's awfully hard to recreate a live-action floating tea party on the ceiling, for example) but also adds some new and exciting elements to the magical world of Mary Poppins created exclusively for theater audiences. Along with a few of these new songs, you're sure to recognize many old favorites, including "Let's Go Fly a Kite," "Jolly Holiday," "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Feed the Birds," "Step in Time," and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"

Character Descriptions
Mary Poppins (mezzo soprano)
Female Lead (Young Adult/Adult) (150+ speaking lines, 15 musical numbers)
Jane and Michael Banks's new nanny. She is extraordinary and strange, neat and tidy, delightfully vain yet very particular, and sometimes a little frightening, but always exciting. She is practically perfect in every way and always means what she says. Good precision and diction, dancing ability.

Jane Banks (child soprano)
Female Lead (11 years old) (100+ speaking lines, 15 musical numbers)
The high-spirited daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Banks, is bright and precocious but can be willful and inclined to snobbishness.

Michael Banks (male child voice, unbroken)
Male Lead (9 years old) (100+ speaking lines, 15 musical numbers)
The cute and cheeky son of Mr. and Mrs. Banks. Excitable and naughty, he adores his father and tries to be like him. Both he and Jane misbehave in order to get the attention of their parents.

Bert (baritone)
Male Lead (Young Adult/Adult) (50+ speaking lines, 14 musical numbers)
The narrator of the story, is a good friend to Mary Poppins. An everyman, Bert has many occupations, including hurdy-gurdy player, sidewalk artist and chimney sweep. Bert watches over the children as well as the goings on in Cherry Tree Lane. He has charm, speaks with a Cockney accent and is a song-and-dance man.

George Banks (baritone)
Male Lead (Young Adult/Adult) (100+ speaking lines, 9 musical numbers)
Father to Jane and Michael Banks, is a banker to the very fiber of his being. Demanding "precision and order" in his household, he is a pipe-and-slippers man who doesn't have much to do with his children and believes that he had the perfect upbringing by his nanny, the cruel Miss Andrew. His emotional armor, however, conceals a sensitive soul.

Winifred Banks (mezzo soprano)
Female Lead (Young Adult/Adult) (100+ speaking lines, 9 musical numbers)
George's wife and Jane and Michael's mother. A former actress, she is a loving and distracted homemaker who is busy trying to live up to her husband's desire to only associate with "the best people" as well as be a model wife and mother. She suffers from the conflicting feelings that she's not up to the job of "being Mrs. Banks," yet she is, and more.

Mrs. Brill (alto)
Female Supporting (Young Adult/Adult) (30+ speaking lines, 4 musical numbers)
The housekeeper and cook for the Banks family. Overworked and harassed, she's always complaining that the house is understaffed. Her intimidating exterior is a cover for the warmth underneath. Mrs. Brill doesn't have a high opinion of nannies in general and Mary Poppins in particular.

Robertson Ay (tenor)
Male Supporting (Young Adult/Adult) (10+ speaking lines, 5 musical numbers)
The houseboy to the Banks family. Lazy, sleepy, and grumbling, he never gets things right and believes himself to be useless. He doesn't do a lot of singing, but his "Spoonful" solo can be a fun surprise.

Miss Andrew (soprano)
Female Cameo (Adult) (10+ speaking lines, 3 musical numbers)
George's overbearing and scary nanny. With her bottle of nasty-tasting brimstone and treacle to keep naughty children in line, she is a bully who only knows one way of doing things--hers! Sings solos in "Brimstone and Treacle, Parts 1 and 2."

Bank Chairman (baritone)
Male Cameo (Adult) (10+ speaking lines, 2 musical numbers)
The head of the bank where Mr. Banks is employed, is an Edwardian stuffed-shirt. Sings solo in "Precision and Order."

Bird Woman (alto)
Female Cameo (Adult) (less than 10 speaking lines, 2 musical numbers)
Covered in a patchwork of old shawls, and her pockets are stuffed with bags of crumbs for the birds. She tries to sell her crumbs to passersby, who ignore her as if she doesn't exist. Sings solo in "Feed the Birds." Gruff and folksy, reflecting the hardness of her life.

Mrs. Corry (soprano)
Female Cameo (Adult) (less than 10 speaking lines, 2 musical numbers)
Owns a magical gingerbread shop. She is a mysterious woman of great age who speaks with an exotic accent. Sings solo in "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." 

Park Keeper (tenor)
Male Cameo (Adult) (less than 10 speaking lines, 2 musical numbers)
Uniformed and officious, he makes sure no one breaks park regulations. His life is defined by rules, but he secretly hankers after his childhood. Sings solo in "Let's Go Fly a Kite."

Male Cameo (Teen/Young Adult) (less than 10 speaking lines, 2 musical numbers)
The statue of a young boy posed with a dolphin in the park. Neleus was separated from his father, Poseidon, and misses him very much. A small and lonely being, he is very happy to befriend Jane and Michael. Dances and sings solo in "Jolly Holiday."

Von Hussler 
Male Cameo (Adult) (less than 10 speaking lines, 1 musical number)
A businessman seeking a loan from the bank for a shady business deal. He speaks with a German accent and sings solo in "Precision and Order."

John Northbrook
Male Cameo (Adult) (less than 10 speaking lines, 1 musical number)
An honest businessman seeking a loan to build a factory for his community. He speaks with a Northern England accent and sings solo in "Precision and Order."

Male or Female Cameo (Teen) (less than 10 speaking lines, 1 musical number)
A stuffed toy doll belonging to Jane who comes to life and sings solo in "Playing the Game."

Additional Ensemble Roles
Katie Nanna, Policeman, Queen Victoria, Miss Lark, Admiral Boom, Miss Smythe, Fannie, Annie, Teddy Bear, Mr. Punch, and Doll. These non-singing roles can be cast amongst numerous individuals or doubled up by actors playing multiple parts, as necessary.

Mary Poppins also has seven fantastic ensemble numbers where folks will be needed to fill out our chorus. Some, like "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "Anything Can Happen" are perfect for families and younger children. Others, like "Precision and Order" or "Playing the Game" will be made up primarily of adults and teens. And a few will require fast hands and feet, like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and "Step in Time." No worries though! No matter what your singing or dancing abilities, there's a place in our cast for you--come and join us!

Crew Descriptions
In addition to the director (Katie Wojtalewicz), we have the following positions covered: Accompanist (Kimberly Thompson), Set Designer/Carpenter (Barry Wojtalewicz), and Costume Manager/Seamstress (Deb Wojtalewicz). We are recruiting volunteers to help behind-the-scenes, so contact the director here if you'd be willing to join our production for any of the following: stage manager, light board operator, spot light operator, sound board operator, set builders/painters, seamstresses, and hair and make-up stylists. And if there are any talents you have that AREN'T listed here, just ask--we'd love to get you involved!

Audition Information
Auditions for Mary Poppins will be held at St. James High School's Little Theater on Monday, May 23rd, and Tuesday, May 24th, at 7:00pm. You're welcome to come on either night to complete an interest form with your contact info, scheduling conflicts, and previous experience (though no previous experience is required). After completing your form, we may have you read a few lines (if you're auditioning for a speaking part), and sing a bit so we can get a sense of your vocal range. If you're a non-singer or only trying out for an ensemble role, we won't force you to sing by yourself--there's room in our cast for anyone who auditions and we want you to feel comfortable onstage!

On that note, for anyone who's interested in auditioning but either can't make the two scheduled nights or needs to meet individually, you can e-mail us here to request a different appointment through May 31st. While we'd prefer that you try to come on Monday or Tuesday, we understand that you may have a scheduling conflict or feel anxious about the group auditions and do better with a one-on-one format. Again, if you usually shy away from auditioning but this flexibility makes you more likely to try out, we're happy to make it work!

Those who want to be considered for principal roles may be asked to sightread some music from the show, so we'd encourage you to get a little familiar with any of the outstanding Mary Poppins soundtracks out there (easily found on iTunes and YouTube). We don't expect you to know the music (and you don't need to provide your own), but this will give us a feel for how you fit the role. We will contact you to schedule a call back the following week should the need arise. Otherwise you can expect to hear from us through e-mail about casting decisions by Friday, June 3rd.

We are planning an initial meeting on Monday, June 6th at 7:30pm at the Little Theater where we'll introduce you to plans for the production, distribute scripts and music, and discuss the rehearsal schedule. 

A Message from the Director about Rehearsals
You're a busy person, so I want you to know my philosophy about scheduling rehearsals. First, I won't make you come when you're not needed. I prefer to break down the scenes into distinct sets so we're using our time efficiently and getting the most out of practice. As a general rule, rehearsals are scheduled Monday through Thursday from 7:00pm until 9:00, though they will likely end closer to 10:00 in the final weeks as we piece bigger scenes of the show together. The schedule is specific, highlighting exactly which characters are needed, often in half hour increments so you know when to be there and when you can expect to leave. I may make some exceptions and offer Friday or weekend catch-up rehearsals while volunteers are there working on the set, though this will not be expected of anyone. Ensemble members will typically only be scheduled a couple of nights per week until we approach the last week or two of rehearsals and start running through entire acts.

I know that people aren't accustomed to dedicating so much of their time to one activity, so I'm prepared to share you with the many obligations in your life and can accommodate a number of scheduling conflicts. In return for this flexibility, I just ask two things: 1) The closer we get to performance week, the more important it is that you be there. If you know that you'll be gone extensively in the second half of July, run this by me to be sure your busy schedule doesn't conflict too much with the show. 2) I will make it easier for you to practice outside of rehearsal, but I'm counting on you to put it to good use. I will be creating practice CDs for everyone to get familiar with their music, giving you an easy excuse to sing along on your commute or while cleaning the house. If you can get comfortable with your songs outside of rehearsal, it tends to make practices that much more efficient and fun for everyone. This little shortcut has been much-appreciated by cast members in past shows!

We'd love to have you join us for Mary Poppins. It's a remarkable story with such memorable songs and dance numbers and we simply can't do it without you! Theater is such a special past time and our summer productions offer a great excuse to hang out with your friends, get to know your neighbors, and bond with your family. Can't wait to see you there!

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