Jul. 18, 2012 - Issue #874: Musician’s Survival Guide: Songwriters on Songwriting
The world's most beloved nanny is coming to Edmonton as part of Broadway Across Canada's national tour, combining award-winning song, dance, costumes and acting for an experience that will resonate with all ages.
The production, a joint production between Disney and noted British theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh, has a permanent performance spot in New York where it has become a Broadway favourite, while another cast tours. Many are familiar with the classic movie starring Julie Andrews, but the stage production has become a hit in its own right, with four productions currently running on three continents and grossing more than $644 million to date.
Touring with the production is award-winning dancer and choreographer Stephen Roberts, currently a faculty member at George Brown College, resident choreographer for Cawthra Park Repertoire and resident adjudicator for the Canadian National Exhibition. Roberts, who calls Toronto home, but has family ties in Edmonton, fills multiple roles for Mary Poppins as assistant dance captain, swing and understudy for Bert.
Essentially, a swing is the ultimate understudy, which Roberts—who has been dancing since he was two-and-a-half—says means having to know all of the male ensemble roles, as well as the non-gender specific ensemble roles, such as chimney sweeps. On top of this, as assistant dance captain, Roberts must also be familiar with every aspect of movement in the show to maintain the vision set by the choreographer and director in rehearsal, which began two months before opening.
"It's a challenge, but while on tour it's awesome because it's constantly new and fresh, so nothing is ever stale," he says. "The word bored doesn't even enter my vocabulary."
Roberts and dance captain Elizabeth Farley have worked tirelessly to maintain the level of energy and technical proficiency set during opening night and take into consideration any notes from the choreographer or director.
"The primary goal is to keep it at that standard, but also the other side is to keep the show at that level when dealing with injuries from the ensemble or issues that have come up," he notes. "Sometimes you set a piece of choreography or a lift or something that works in rehearsal, it works when you're previewing it, but after a month of eight shows a week, it's not necessarily the best choice for your body, so that's the other goal is to be able to make adjustments and help management with the longevity of the show."
Showbiz may mean long hours, injuries and intense rehearsing, but Roberts says he enjoys the diversity of dance styles within Mary Poppins, which include tap, elements of ballet and classic musical theatre. From an audience standpoint, he believes there's something for everyone.
"When you're an adult and you watch it, you feel like it's a musical for adults, and when the kids watch it, they feel like it's a musical for them," Roberts adds. "Everyone feels like it's just for them, which is so hard to do with musical theatre today, but I think that's why it's becoming so universal."
Tue, Jul 24 – Sun, Jul 29 (8 pm; 2 pm Sat matinee; 1 pm Sun matinee; 6:30 pm Sun evening)
Directed by Richard Eyre
Jubilee Auditorium, $45 – $115 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy