The Paramount Players present ‘Mary Poppins’

March 7, 2019

The Mary Poppins story has been a part of the modern psyche for over 80 years now. P. L. Travers’ first Mary Poppins book came out in the 1930s, the first of eight volumes. Then, the Disney movie version of the story, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, found great success and has sparked the imaginations of kids of all ages since its theatrical debut in 1964.

Last year, Disney made a sequel to the original Mary Poppins movie that became a hit on its own, turning on a whole new generation to the beloved characters.

Grossing over 340 million dollars in four months, Mary Poppins Returns will be released next week digitally and on DVD.

In between the two movies, however, there was the very successful production of Mary Poppins — the Broadway Musical performed live onstage. The play featured music and lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe along with a book by Julian Fellowes.

It originally opened in 2004 in the West End theater district in London and then migrated to the U.S. two years later. On Broadway in New York City, Mary Poppins — The Broadway Musical ran for an impressive 2,600 shows and garnered multiple Tony Award nominations.

Next week, on Friday and Saturday, March 15-16, the local award-winning acting troupe The Paramount Players will bring Mary Poppins - The Broadway Musical to life for Tri-State audiences.

Mary Poppins — The Broadway Musical will be performed at the historic Paramount Arts Center in Ashland at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 15, and at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. Tickets for this wonderful musical are $30 for adults and $18 for students.

A special $50 family pass for all three shows is also available. For more information, go to paramountartscenter.com or call 606-324-0007.

Melanie Cornelison-Janotta is the director of The Paramount Players’ production of Mary Poppins — The Broadway Musical and Joshua Janotta is the musical director.

“The most difficult things as far as making this show successful are the technical elements, including the large set, lots of costumes and the flying element of the Mary Poppins character,” Cornelison-Janotta said. “I think Mary Poppins is such a classic tale. The revival of the story on Broadway and the subsequent national tours of the musical afterwards along with the new movie have kept the show fresh and The Paramount Players are very excited about our production.”

Fortunately, the original producers of Mary Poppins - The Broadway Musical were smart enough to keep the classic songs from the original movie in the stage version, including “Chim Chim Cher-ree,” “Feed The Birds,” “Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Step In Time” and “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.”

With an artistic and gifted crop of local and regional talent to choose from, now that The Paramount Players have become so well-known, this will be a fun show to see.

“This particular version is based on both the books and the original Walt Disney film and the majority of songs that people remember from the first movie are in there,” Cornelison-Janotta said.

“There is so much amazing talent in this Tri-state area. Every time we hold auditions, there is that bit of concern about what will happen if the right people don’t audition for specific parts. But, in this case, there were multiple ways we could have cast the show because we had so much talent that showed up. We had about 120 people audition for this production and we needed about 65 actors, so it is a very large cast.”

Mary Poppins will be played by Michelle Grubb, Thaddeus Stambaugh portrays Bert, Paige Fraley will perform the role of Jane, and Christian Barnes takes on the character of Michael. The rest of the cast includes Mark Baker and Elizabeth Hensley as Mr. and Mrs. Banks, Bethany Himes as Mrs. Brill, Bruce Dearfield as Robertson Ay, Samantha Young as Miss Andrew, Lee Dean as the Park Keeper, Robin Wilson as Miss Lark, Gary Morgan as Admiral Boom, Heather Myers as Mrs. Corry, Andrew Hall as the Policeman, Kennedi Meredyth as Katie Nana and Steve Dyer in the role of the Bank Chairman.

“We are renting an amazing set for this production from the Front Row Theatrical Company and it is going to be amazing,” said Cornelison-Janotta. “Some of the magic is built into the set and some is created by the actors and the crew, and what better magic is there than characters that fly through the air?”

The Paramount Players will be taking a break after these performances of Mary Poppins — The Broadway Musical, with many new productions coming later in 2019.

“Mary Poppins will be the final Paramount Players show for this season,” Cornelison-Janotta said.

“We will be announcing our summer shows very soon as the entire Paramount Players season will be announced at The Paramount Joe Awards to be held on June 7. I think we have a great season coming up and we look forward to sharing it with everyone in the Tri-State area.”