Photo courtesy of Randy Osga
In just a couple of weeks a “practically perfect” production will be taking over the spotlight in the Fine Arts Center. Emily Turtle and Brooks Shatraw are two of the many excited cast members who are looking forward to putting on the University of Rhode Island Theater’s production of “Mary Poppins.”
Turtle will be playing the title role Mary Poppins who is known for being “practically perfect” in every way. Shatraw will be playing the role of Bert, the leading male role who acts as the narrator.
For both Turtle and Shatraw, working on this production has been a great bonding experience with their fellow cast members. Throughout pre-production they’ve grown closer with their peers who they spend ample amounts of time with at rehearsals and in class, as well as newer members to the theater department.
“Me and Emily have definitely gotten closer from this because we’ve spent so much time together and we’re so excited to do it [the show] that we have that mutual support for each other,” Shatraw said.
From rehearsals thus far, Turtle has learned how important it is to maintain focus on stage. She explains that staying focused and listening to what is going on around you will help you keep up with the music, dialogue and dancing on stage.
Shatraw says that this is the biggest dance show he’s been in and rehearsals have allowed him to acquire a multitude of dance skills.. “Mary Poppins,” being a dance heavy show, includes several styles of dance.
“It’s been challenging because we have a lot of different types of dance,” Turtle said. “There’s tap. There’s waltzing. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is a whole modge podge of dancing.”
However, Turtle and Shatraw are very fortunate for their talented choreographer and dance captains who help them learn the difficult choreography smoothly.
Along with dancing, the production includes flying on wires. The characters, Mary Poppins and Bert both traditionally fly in the show. While the workshop for flying hasn’t happened yet, Turtle and Shatraw are a bit nervous, but overall are very excited to be lifted into the air in the Robert E. Will Theater.
Turtle thinks that it’s “any actors dream, if they’re not afraid of heights, to fly in a show because it’s such a fun, wonderful thing to be able to do.”
With “Mary Poppins” being a well known show across all ages, the cast expects a large portion of the audience to be familiar with the story and the magic that comes along with it. It’s likely that audience members have been introduced to the characters of Mary Poppins and Bert before putting pressure on Turtle and Shatraw’s portrayal of the roles.
“People kind of have this expectation of who he [Bert] is,” Shatraw said. “It’s intimidating but it’s also really interesting because people already love this character and they want to see this character do well and succeed. It’s kinda like I already have the audience’s support who know the show.”
A large turnout is expected with the show being well known and even so Turtle is most excited to simply be performing onstage with her peers because of how talented they all are. She’s also anticipating seeing everyone’s reactions because she believes that “Mary Poppins” is a show for both kids and adults.
With the show being family friendly, all ages of all generations will have the opportunity to be taken on Mary Poppins’ magical journey with the Banks family.
“I think ‘Mary Poppins’ is cool in that way that it’s timeless but there’s also this generational love for it,” Shatraw said. “Now with the ‘Mary Poppins’ sequel coming out and the movie ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ a couple of years ago people still know and love the story. Anyone will love it. It caters to all ages.”
Performances of Mary Poppins will be held in the Robert E. Will Theater located in URI’s Fine Arts Center on April 20, 21, 27, 28 at 7:30 and on April 21, 22, 28, 29 at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at https://tickets.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=4bb3d8fab0b89fbd09a1224fe918b402&vqitq=983982b5-7ea6-4cd0-a066-4bea0e5da173&vqitp=8a699399-9594-48b0-a92c-1d97ae96ccb3&vqitts=1503344306&vqitc=vendini&vqite=itl&vqitrt=Safetynet&vqith=f94143e3241fbb42ac6ca29f7abda3d9