The Star-Herald

Presque Isle High School drama club to perform “Mary Poppins” for fall musical

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Students in Presque Isle High School’s Shipmates Playhouse will present their fall musical, “Mary Poppins,” in a series of performances in mid-November.

The cast of 35 students and their backstage crew of 10 began rehearsals in early September and returned after harvest break to fine tune the 25 songs, eight dance numbers and 26 scenes in the musical. 

Shipmates Playhouse director Dennis Koch, who is also a PIHS graduate, said that he chose “Mary Poppins” in part because the story is one that many generations are familiar with, whether they’ve seen Disney’s original 1964 version or the 2018 sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.”

Landyn Newlands (left) and Danica Haskell rehearse the “chimney sweepers” dance routine for the Shipmates Playhouse musical, “Mary Poppins,” on Nov. 4.
(Staff photo/Melissa Lizotte)

“It’s one of those uplifting shows where people walk out of the theater feeling entertained and happy,” Koch said. “Mary Poppins’ is about hope and positivity and, with the holidays coming up, I think people need a story like that.”

Students will debut the musical at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15,  and perform subsequent shows that weekend at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 and 2 p.m. Nov. 17. The following week they will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, and at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23. 

PIHS junior Sabrina Sperrey, who is playing the role of Jane Banks, has been involved with Shipmates Playhouse productions since her freshman year. She is excited to bring “Mary Poppins” to local audience members of all ages.

“I love the story. It’s one of my childhood favorites,” Sperrey said. “The music makes you happy and it’s a story anyone can enjoy.”

Presque Isle High School senior Rachel Ellis (center) rehearses a dance routine for the Shipmates Playhouse’s fall musical “Mary Poppins,” in which she plays the title character, on Nov. 4.
(Staff photo/Melissa Lizotte)

The musical marks the first time that senior Rachel Ellis, who is playing Mary Poppins, has appeared in a leading role in a high school production. She has performed in school theater productions since sixth grade.

“It has taught me to be more outgoing,” Ellis said, about theater. 

This is the second year that Koch has served as the Shipmates Playhouse director. He said the most rewarding part about directing is when he sees students become more confident in their singing, dancing and acting abilities and learn how to work together toward a common goal.

“The students here are still some of the most dedicated performers,” Koch said. “One of the truly great things is seeing them grow their trust in one another. We have a very tight, supportive group.”

Folks can purchase tickets for the musical at Goin’ Postal in Presque Isle or the Presque Isle High School main office. Tickets are $5 for children and $7 for adults.

Emma Deeves, (left), Addy Smith, Erin Kelly, Sabrina Sperrey, Rachel Ellis, and Landyn Newlands rehearse the “chimney sweepers” dance sequence for the Shipmates Playhouse fall musical, “Mary Poppins,” on Monday.
(Staff photo/Melissa Lizotte)

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