'Mary Poppins' ready to soar

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May 27—VALDOSTA — Audrey Thompson looked at the prime source to play Mary Poppins — Julie Andrews.

Andrews played the character in the 1964 Disney film. Thompson plays the character in the Drama Kids Theatre Guild production playing live this weekend at the old Valdosta High School Performing Arts Center.

"I watched the first 'Mary Poppins' movie to see how Julie Andrews interacted with people," Thompson said, dressed in character with her satchel and umbrella in hand.

Thompson joins a cast of about 40 children and youths participating in Drama Kids' "Mary Poppins Jr." production, said Ashley Beck, show director, adding rehearsals started in early March for the production.

The "Junior" designation doesn't mean this Mary Poppins is the daughter of the original Mary Poppins but rather the production has been abridged and adapted to be performed by children.

The show is credited to the creative team of Disney and co-creator Cameron Mackintosh, with original music and lyrics by brothers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, book by Julian Fellowes, with new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

All based on the books by P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney movie.

Beck points out that audiences will discover some differences between the beloved movie and the stage adaptation, adding they will have to see the show to discover the differences.

"All of London is shouting from the rooftops about this exciting stage adaptation of the classic tales of Mary Poppins," according to the Drama Kids show synopsis. "Join the Banks family as they encounter adventure after fun-filled adventure with their curious new nanny, Mary Poppins. ... This musical includes favorite Sherman brothers songs such as 'A Spoonful of Sugar,' 'Feed the Birds' and 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.'"

THE CAST: Taylor Deloach, Samuel Butler, Sadie Mason, Esther Miller, Evan Slone, Gemma Bonura, Amelia Stern, Brody Mowatt, Audrey Thompson, Naomi Harp, Anne Wardwell, Maelee Baltrus, Gunner Smith, Noah DeVine, Hudson Kinard, Mackenzi Cole, Baxa Campbell, Jacob Litster, Lucas Stern, Madison Trent, Sarah Rowan, Aubrey Gerrald, Megan Raabe, Amelea DeCoudres, Jayden Gilbert, Brielle Gilbert, Austin Gilbert, Corynn Hyder, Iris Cleary, Claire Wolfe, Kinsley Brock, Elizabeth Foster, Lilly Cleary, Charlotte Foster, Karley Velazquez, Rosemary McGee, Miguel Velazquez, Reese Dorminey, Jeremy Litster, Olivia Fowler.

DIRECTION, PRODUCTION: Lu Baxa, Maggie Smith, producers; Ashley Beck, director, choreographer; Valerie Gales, assistant director; Jessica Foster, music director; Luke Hiers, assistant music director.

Drama Kids Theatre Guild's "Mary Poppins Jr." plays 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 28, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 29, Old Valdosta High School Performing Arts Center, 3101 Barack Obama Boulevard. More information: Visit dramakidsvaldosta.com or call (229) 269-2897.