Mary Poppins Drama Jr.

By Miriam Lee

The Charter Features – 4/24/19

ACA’s very own Drama Jr. has performed numerous plays from “Peter Pan” to “The Aristocats” to “Mary Poppins.” You may notice a Disney theme here, but they haven’t always stuck to Disney.

“In the past, we shied away from Disney opting instead to do more serious plays, like Annie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Christmas Carol.” says Darla Hall, director of Drama Jr. “We were running out of options and decided to try a Disney play. We have had so much fun and have had such a good response from parents and students that we keep choosing Disney. It is not to say we will always, but it seems the more well known the story is, the better response you get from families and audiences.”

According to Hall, the class usually ranges from about 20-30 kids each year, resulting in a lot of chaos. Darla Hall, and her sister Deborah Brenner have been co-teaching Drama Jr. for over 10 years now. Hall taught the class for a year before asking her sister to join her in teaching Drama Jr. and Stagecraft. Hall says, “I could not do this without her. She does all the creative stuff!!!” She also has a teacher’s assistant to help regulate the class further.

“Tazio has been our teacher’s assistant for the past three years. He has done a fabulous job coaching the kids, helping us manage them, running the soundtrack, and helping us with video equipment. He was the famous butler in both the Aristocats and Annie. He not only helps us, but loves and participated in the High School Drama class, as well,” says Hall.

Mary Poppins Jr. teacher’s assistant, Tazio Vilali, introduces the play on both nights. Photo taken, night one. February 28th, 2019.
The audience watching the play on night one. February 28th, 2019.
Stagecraft behind the scenes helping with the drama students. February 28th, 2019. Photo taken by Torin Combs.

“We could not perform without our Stagecraft class. They work on the props, scenery, backdrops, and some portions of the costumes. They provide lighting and scene changes. Deborah does a wonderful job of leading them,” says Hall.

Drama students forget their lines and start to improvise with Weston LeClaire who ends up taking over the role the next night. February 28th, 2019.

“Everyone did a fabulous job this year. I was so proud of Weston, a third grader, who played Burt in Mary Poppins, which was a lead role. He not only had his part memorized, but most of the other kids’ parts memorized, as well. When Haven, who played Van Hustler, was throwing up and couldn’t be at the play on Saturday, Weston stepped in and played her part, along with his one. On Friday, He slipped and fell and hurt himself during one of his solos, picked himself up, and continued to sing and dance through the tears, truly exemplifying the phrase, ‘The show must go on!’”

Hall went on to explain how proud she is of her students. She loves to see these kids blossom from shy, quiet kids, to outgoing passionate Drama students. She says that this year in particular, some of her students improvised when they came across bumps in the play, which Hall had never taught them; further explaining why she’s so proud of them.

The famous “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” scene being performed in their creative way. February 28th, 2019.
Jane and Michael Banks performing. February 28th, 2019. Photo taken by Michael Lancaster.

“Our class is meant to be a semester long. We have performed as early as December, The Christmas Carol, and as late as March, Mary Poppins.  We like to be the center of attention and do not want to compete with any other special event! This time of the year really works for us. We then have the spring to rest and dream about next year!” says Hall.

The cast of the play taking their bows at the end of the show. February 28th, 2019.

Now that the play has finished, both Drama Jr. and Stagecraft have stopped meeting, and Darla says her and Brenner are already brainstorming next year’s play. The plan so far is either The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, or The Lion King.

Sources:

Hall, Darla. Personal Interview. April 9th, 2019.

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