Mary Poppins cast grows together

First slide

An actor’s first introduction to the audience as the character they are portraying is important; it sets the tone for the rest of the show. The O’Connell Players at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington recently previewed the first scene of their upcoming spring musical for Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, and rushed to make their first appearances on Cherry Tree Lane as “practically perfect” as Mary Poppins (Emma Powers).

“Mary Poppins” is coming to the O’Connell stage April 26-29. Bert, played by Ethan O’Donovan, enters onstage covered in chimney dust and introduces the Banks family: George Banks (Anthony Socarras), Winifred Banks (Elise Welsh), Jane Banks (Lara Sunter) and Michael Banks (Maddie Hunt). The cast lined up backstage against the prop table wall during the performance awaiting their entrances. They played a game of “prop telephone,” passing Katie Nanna’s  (Emma Bourne) suitcase to Bourne so she can stomp offstage.

Throughout each production at O’Connell, the cast and crew grow together quickly, and this production is no exception — whether it is Natalie Archer and the prop crew, the tech crew in the basement, or Mrs. Brill (Caitlin Mea) and Robertson Ay (Jeffrey Hales) whose characters bicker constantly. Hunt described the drama program as a big family. “I love everyone,” she said. 

“The O’Connell Players shaped my high school experience,” said Hales. “I’ve met so many close friends who I never would’ve met otherwise.”

“It’s so fun to bring happiness to others,” said Bank Chairman (Andrew Oliveras). “I’ll miss this O’Connell family when I graduate.”  

“Yet again I have been cast as the old, cranky one, but I enjoy being the comic relief. I am Brilled — I mean thrilled — with the progress of the show and our improved Cockney accents,” Mea added.

O’Connell’s theater director, Sara Zimmerman, brought in Beth Whitehead to help the actors with their accents, which range from British to French to German. Through very British phrases such as “Oh, Lummy” and wider vowels than the actors are used to, the cast is growing toward the “precision and order” that the family patriarch, George Banks, tries to achieve throughout the show.

Neleus (Katelyn McKintosh), who is making her acting debut, remarked that the theater program is fun. “Everyone is so nice and welcoming,” she said.

“Mary Poppins has been a blast for me,” said Maya Shourie, the head of makeup. “I have really enjoyed designing the makeup face maps for all the characters and can't wait to see the actors bring them to life on stage.”

“Mary Poppins is my favorite movie and these students are putting their all into the show,” said Zimmerman. “It’s wonderful to see all aspects of the show come together, but I’m especially happy to see the actors and crew members support each other every day.”

If you go

Bishop O’Connell High School, 6600 Little Falls Rd., Arlington.
April 26-28: 7 p.m., April 29: 2 p.m.
Buy tickets at bishopoconnell.org/OCPlayers or 703/237-1448.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018