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Review: Hats off to 'Mary Poppins'

C.C. Roiseland plays a toy in The Barn Theatre’s musical production of “Mary Poppins.” Elaborate costumes and makeup add to the beauty and magic of the show. All performances are sold out for the production, which runs through June 26 in downtown Willmar.

Poppins and tuppence … hats off to director Jan Buzzeo’s artistry and vision for everyone’s favorite nanny and Disney show.

Cherry Tree Lane: historic, turn-of-the century London. The stage appropriately reflects the time period and the props draw the viewer into a time when distractions were rare and simplicity abundant.

The orchestra is situated for vital sound and timing. Orchestra members Anita Flowe, Ray Eyrich, Viv Watson, Susann Karnowski, Marcia Overton and Kaylee Helgeson perform a most-rigorous ensemble of music and Kristine Carlson does a superb job at conducting them through the three-hour score.

Matt Schiller plays a most jolly and lively character; telling quite an adventuresome tale throughout the play. His portrayal of his character, Bert, can only be put in the category of exceptional.

Anthony Buzzeo, Issac Larson, Cecilia Buzzeo and Emma Villnow shine in their roles as Michael and Jane Banks and infect us with their smiles and spunk. Tim Ostby and Carol Meier perform the firm and dutiful parents with concrete acting accuracy and vocal precision.

Mary Poppins is played by Jeannie Reid. She radiates the epitome of Mary; she allures with grace, class and perfection. Her vocal range and pitch are in a class of its own and her acting ability natural and with ease.

Each character element is essential for the production to be complete. We see the Banks’ household help, Mrs. Brill (Kellie Wright) and Robertson Ay (Jordan Gatewood) and Cathy Bays as Mrs. Lark. Matthew Weiss as Neleus and the tender Birdwoman played by Emily Morton. The birdwoman and Mary provide a heart-warming scene and an angelic chorus brings a serene and peace to the theater that can melt a cold heart.

The quirky trio of Mrs. Corry, Annie Corey and Fannie Corry are played by Christina Nelson, Randi Larson and Maddie Schiller. Allen Clark plays the orderly Constable and Ashley Stai is Valentine. Ace Bonnema, Lyle Mangen and Bill Wright portray bankers and investors. Bill Bannon performs a dual role (Admiral Boom and Bank Chairman), as well as, Gretchen Otness as Queen Victoria and the saucy Mrs. Smythe.

Jill Benson, who portrays Miss Andrew, appears with a delightful sense of terror. She encompasses the stage and engages us to follow her every move. She dazzles the dark side and vibrates the rafters with her vocal excellence.

Completing the acting ensemble are Alice Lindgren, Kirstyn Harasyn, Jen Harasyn, Sela Larson, Claire Schiller, Denise Deaner, Melissa Mangen, Doug Wilkowskie, Allison Mattson, Bailey Stahl, Caitlynn Roiseland, Cecilia Hernandez, Adam Schiller, Mykal Barker and Noah Eckhoff.

Pauline Prawl, as choreographer, has assembled amazing and show-stopping original dances that will leave the audience shouting and clapping. She guided the troupes through a “Supercaligragilisticexpialidocious” dance number that will leave audience members out of breath.

The magic of Mary Poppins is made a reality by the talent of Trevor Eckhoff. He provides many hidden treasures throughout the show and leaves one wondering how. One must keep a close eye to the stage to not miss any of his special effects. Trevor, along with Sonja Madsen, also applied character makeup.

Shannon Eckhoff, as costumer, shows her creative class and eye for detail. Her strong sense of style and regard for time-period pieces place her at the top of her game. She had seamstress assistance from Carol Parker, Candy Tabor and Liz Hyttsten.

John Jahr, as vocal director, did an outstanding job. Characters shine throughout the show with melodic beauty to the Disney favorites. Michelle Gralish, Allen Clark, Louann Villnow and Sydney Benson spare no time in prepping for the next scene. Aane Twedt marvels us with his maticulously designed set which is coordinated beautifully with props by Cheri Buzzeo. Lighting design and sound are shared by Matt Hegdahl and Thom Rosengren.

The beauty, splendor and magic of Mary Poppins — Jan Buzzeo has captured it all in this extraordinary and delightful tale of revelations and change. She precisely cast each individual to character and precides over a show that has the flow and rhythm of the ocean as it glides in and out of shore.

Magic. Music. Marvel and Magnitude. Hats off “Mary Poppins,” hats off!

This review is special to the Tribune and was written by Heidi Ahmann, Heidi is a Delta flight attendant who loves to “seek out attention” at The Barn Theatre. Her shows to date are “She Loves Me,” “Nuncrackers,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Addams Family” musical in which she played her most beloved role, Grammama Addams. She resides in Willmar with her husband of 14 years, Steve Ahmann.

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