Chimney Sweep

Vive Les Arts Theatre Pursues the Magic of MARY POPPINS in Killeen, TX

The community-run Vive Les Arts Theater in Killeen, Texas brings MARY POPPINS to life in the self-proclaimed “Giant Summer Musical” by Vive Les Arts. We all know the traditional Mary Poppins story of family, discipline, and chimney sweeps, but as familiar as that story is, it’s always refreshing to revisit the Banks on Cherry Tree Lane. Starting with Bert (played by John Asbach), the most popular chimney sweep of all time, to Jane (played by Joy Adams) and Michael (played by Jonathan Dominguez) who are adventuring through the streets with Mary Poppins (played by Heidi Lewis) in England the turn of the century. As two very naughty children, their distracted mother Winifred Banks (played by Carlie Jo Hill) can’t keep a nanny for more than a few weeks. George Banks (played by Jeremy Stallings) is a classic, distracted father who is aloof and carefree caring for his family. George values ​​his money more than anything and shows the audience that adults must learn lessons too. When the wind changes, Marry Poppins rushes in without notice and begins teaching the children that “anything is possible if you let it.” The journey continues with moving statues and larger-than-life set pieces that add a new and different twist to this timeless classic, directed by Hayley Dugger. The actors from MARY POPPINS were presented to a lively community audience and entertained the locals with their adaptation of this cheerful musical.

Highlighting the better performances is the show, we have to look at Heidi Lewis in her role as Mary Poppins. She embodied the cute quirks and mannerisms a character like Ms. Poppins would display, and also served as the driving wedge in this story. Her discipline and quick wit at the banks made for the loudest laughs, and the audience reaction seemed to add to her performance. Lewis’ singing talent was fantastic as she navigated through their numbers and took to the skies on her departure. The “nasty nanny” Miss Andrew (played by April Stevens Kessler) was perfectly matched to Lewis’ talent. Their big common scene could be interpreted as a “sing-off”, with the women of equal rights showing equally impressive pipes and acting caliber. Her operatic “fight” on stage during Brimstone and Treacle was entertaining and did well to bring the audience back into the story.

The ensemble reminds theatergoers why community theater is so important. Her energy and spark captivated the audience during the fantastic pieces of music Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Step In Time and my favorite Chim Chim Cher-ee. Choreographer Samantha Harper hid the fantastic tap number in the middle of the show, showing off the raw talent and power of this ensemble. These musical numbers with the committed dancers brought the magic to the stage with their consistent and bold choreography. This break with history served as a highlight for the young and adult audience. Storytelling was unfortunately missing in this performance by Mary Poppins, as the young people in the audience are not entertained by the long set changes of impressively large set pieces. Vive Les Arts runs curtain to curtain for 3 hours and it would have been better to focus the fluidity on the stage within MARY POPPINS and not the scenery in which it takes place.

The actors’ performances are charming, but reminiscent of community theater, which technically bites off a bit more than they could chew. Clearly, a lot of heart and effort was put into the production, but most of them lacked the performance technique, resulting in awkward and unexpected moments on stage. In terms of the stage production of the show, scene changes were sometimes terrifying and got messy. Sets that accidentally met, early gigs, and ongoing audio issues distracted and took the magic out of MARY POPPINS. Despite these difficulties, actor John Asbach flew impressively through the air and added a few nice gags to the young viewers. Overall, the heart of this show is to be appreciated and brings nostalgic and funny moments to the Killeen Texas community, even if challenged on occasion. Return to happy old England, take your spoonful of sugar and watch MARY POPPINS fly to the Vive Les Arts Theater!





JULY 22-24

July 29th – July 31st

Photo credit: Vive Les Arts Theater


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