To the cast, crew and creative team of Mary Poppins:
Not to contradict my character’s (Mr. Banks’) line in Act 2, but I actually am quite sentimental.
The last few weeks have been a pretty magical time for all of us, though filled with some frustration and stress. Often people in theatre say, “It will all come together” or “The magic of theatre will take over.” But reality tells us that instead it is the hard work, sweat and sometimes literal tears that get a show on its feet.
I don’t think anyone in the company can deny that this show got on its feet so smoothly (after a sizable rough patch) because of the tireless work of our amazing crew. Without the carpenters, painters and our stage management, we would be performing a four-hour show on a nearly blank stage. They took the impossible and not only made it probable, but created the colorful world around us.
And for that, I am thankful to all of the aforementioned people, in particular, Matthew (Swindell), Rebecca (Gossett), Chandler (Clark) and everyone that works so closely with them. JJ, Alaina (Cascio) and everyone working freakishly hard to bring the flies in and out as fast as possible, Andre (Lobban) and the “Fly Boys” and everyone else in between. This show could not happen without the work you do every night.
I have found in the last few years, that though I learned a lot about theatre in college (I knew nothing about it before then), I have learned the most by observing live theatre. And let me tell you, there is no shortage of learning experiences for me in this show.
Whether it be watching our younger ensemble members pour their hearts into the scenes they are in. Or the luxury I have in this role of watching most of the show from the wings: Joshua (Cellar) tap in “Step In Time” with more raw talent and enthusiasm than most professional dancers twice his age could ever hope to have. D.J. (Grooms) and Tate (LeClair) giving absolutely 100 percent every time I see them on stage. Watching Lane (Stone), Brooke (Lee), Jackson (Crowley) and Patrick (Chappel) grow from young ensemble members to stars in their own right.
Magical, intangible moments that are hard to even put into words: My heartbreak and joy as I watch Trish (Epperson – Mary Poppins) bid adieu to Michael (Crowley, Chappel) after he says, “I love you” – a happy, yet heartfelt and bittersweet moment that encapsulates the entire show for me and brings me to tears every time, singing her final measures with a smile on her face but a tear in her eye.
The joy the audience shares with us as they see Griffeth (Whitehurst – Bert) walk the proscenium and turn upside down. And more poignant for me, the heartbreak on Griffeth’s face as he realizes Mary is leaving as he hands her the painting.
To watch Kaitlin sing “Being Mr. Banks,” to hear the heartbreak, yet hope for the future, in her voice and know that she just never gives up. These are indelible moments of theatre and life that no one can ever take away from me. And these moments not only speak to me as a person, but an artist. I observe, watch and learn from every single stage action I see.
To quote multiple Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell: “When I was in high school, I went to see the first national tour of A Chorus Line; I sat in the very last row of the last balcony. I left obsessed. I ran to dance class the next day and told my teacher she had to teach me how to do ‘turn, turn, out, in, jump, step.’ A year later, I auditioned for the tour and I got it. My first night on, I remember thinking, ‘I wonder who is in the back row.’”
I can remember the single most inspirational moment of my theatre life, when I decided above all else, this was the only thing I wanted to do. It was when I was 14, watching “Les Misérables” for the first time on London’s West End. I cried as soon as the orchestra hit the first chord and that was when I was sold on theatre as a life and career choice.
That’s what this is all about: inspiring others. Bringing people into another world where they can forget their troubles and let go for two hours. Whether a performance inspires a child to pursue acting or an adult to change their life for the better, a moving performance has the power to do that. If every one of us inspires just one person in that audience with the work we have done, that’s a pretty magical thing.
As a group, on stage, off stage, in the costume shop, in the pit, the box office, we all made this show a reality, and I really think we touched a lot of people and brought some magic to their lives. I know it did for my life.
Thank you to everyone who reads this for the world you created on that stage, and to everyone at the Springer who always greets me the same way when I arrive for my first day: “Welcome home, Scott!”