The Croswell Opera House in downtown Adrian is presenting “Mary Poppins,” the musical based on the classic books and the 1964 Walt Disney film, for the next three weekends.
The whimsical story features a “practically perfect” nanny who enchants a London family at the turn of the 20th century. The Croswell’s production opened last night and runs through June 28, with shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“This is a truly magical story that generations of children have fallen in love with,” said Jere Righter, artistic director of the Croswell. “And it’s also the kind of show where everyone in the family can find something that speaks to them, some lesson to appreciate.”
Director Julianne Dolan said the show tells a story about a troubled family learning to embrace life and open themselves up to wonder.
“The creative team is helping to make the Croswell version truly our own and you won’t want to miss it,” Dolan said. “Anyone who reads the story has a vision — you can see it and smell it in your imagination. Transferring the story to the stage really brings it to life.”
Leah Fox, the actress playing the title role, describes the show as a joyful, optimistic story about a family learning to connect with each other. Fox is a Sand Creek High School graduate now living in Ypsilanti. Her past Croswell credits include “Carousel,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and last summer’s production of “Les Miserables.”
The role of Bert, Dick Van Dyke’s character in the film, is played by Kyle Sell of Blissfield. Bert is the cheerful chimney sweep who helps the children learn the lessons Mary Poppins is teaching them, and Sell said playing such an iconic character is an interesting challenge.
“Everyone is expecting Dick Van Dyke because they are familiar with the film,” he said. “It’s fun to put my own twist on the character of Bert.”
Susan Eversden, the costume designer for the show, grew up in England reading the P.L. Travers “Mary Poppins” books.
“This show is very personal to me because it is a part of my childhood and my daughter’s childhood,” said Eversden, who is also the resident costume designer at Siena Heights University.
In addition to Fox and Sell, the production features Chloe Danley of Tecumseh and Cole Carrico of Adrian as Jane and Michael Banks, the children in Mary Poppins’ care. Steve Antalek and Michelle Force, both of Adrian, play Mr. and Mrs. Banks, and the household servants are played by Erin Pifer and Xavier Sarabia of Adrian.
Mary Rumman of Milan plays Miss Andrew, the overbearing nanny who terrorizes the Banks children with “brimstone and treacle,” and Lori MacDonald of Adrian plays Katie Nanna, the nanny who’s driven away by the children’s hijinks. Becca Nowak of Britton is Mrs. Corry, the candy store owner who sets up one of the show’s most famous songs, and her daughters, Annie and Fannie, are played by real-life sisters Reilly and Mollie Cardella of Tecumseh.
Rounding out the cast are Jessica Adams, Sheli Allen, Jon Antalek, Matthew Antalek, Audrey Force, Emily Hribar, Elizabeth Pifer, Charlie Raab, Aaron Shown, Peter Stewart, Katherine Timm, and Jonathan Tobar, all of Adrian; Brittany Essen of Blissfield; Maggie Page of Clarklake; Nathan VanAtta of Clinton; Logan Balcom of Hillsdale; Patrick Yee of Huntington Woods; Steven Kiss of Lambertville; Joanna Bacarella of Monroe; Eryn Book of Petersburg; Abby Dotz of Saline; Meg Grezak of Sylvania; Tom Hodgman, Tommy Hodgman, Mark Hyre, Meg McNamee, and Wade Ondrovick, all of Tecumseh; Emily Ialacci of Temperance; and Erin Ripley of Waterville, Ohio.
Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m. and Sunday shows are at 2:30 p.m. In addition, a special Saturday matinee will take place at 2:30 p.m. June 20.
The summer season will continue with “Big Fish” in July and “Memphis” in August.
Tickets range from $15 to $35. The Croswell is at 129 E. Maumee St. in downtown Adrian. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 517-264-7469 or go to croswell.org.