One of the world’s most notorious nannies will be dropping into Hays on Thursday evening, as Hays Community Theatre opens the curtain for its summer musical production of “Mary Poppins.”
It’s the group’s largest performance of the year, and approximately 40 local actors will take the stage at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the Fort Hays State University campus for three performances through the weekend.
“I definitely wanted a show that catered to all ages,” said Karl Pratt, the production’s stage and music director. “I think it will definitely bring some kids, some new kids, in to experience the classic tale of ‘Mary Poppins,’ and also hopefully bring in our adult population, who have hopefully seen the movie at some point in their life.”
Performances will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $10 for children under 12 and $15 for adults. Tickets will be available at the door, or can be purchased online at hctks.com.
The entire theatre consists of volunteers who have sacrificed a significant amount of time to prepare for the performance. It’s been a six-month planning process, and the cast has been practicing 20 hours each week since the beginning of June.
“It’s been pretty intense, and it’s all volunteer,” Pratt said. “They totally gave up their summers for it.”
But it’s a passion for many of the volunteers, who range in age from 7 to 50. The crew includes an additional 40 people, such as hairdressers, costume and set designers, choreographers and many others.
And it’s an annual event many long-time volunteers and local actors anticipate. For some, including Claire Nickerson, community theater has been an opportunity to continue acting beyond college.
Nickerson, who studied theater at University of Southern California, will be playing the iconic role of the production’s namesake.
“I was really excited when I heard they were going to be doing this show,” she said. “I was like, ‘Well, I’m clearly very Mary Poppins-y.’ But it was still sort of a surprise to be cast in this role, and it’s been certainly a challenge.”
Because it’s a musical, actors also are required to sing and dance. Nickerson said the tap dancing numbers have been especially challenging.
“It keeps me busy,” said Nickerson, who moved to Hays in 2011 and works on campus.
She first took the stage last year for Hays Community Theatre’s summer production of “Shrek” after taking a break from theater.
“It’s nice to get back into it,” said Nickerson, who certainly looked the part of Mary Poppins at a dress rehearsal Tuesday -- complete with a black hat with flowers on the brim and a large (possibly magic) carpet bag.
The stage adaptation differs slightly from the well-known Disney movie, and will feature some new scenes and songs. The storyline, however, and many of the songs and characters will be familiar, Pratt said.
The show is made possible by community support in both financial and in-kind contributions, as well as volunteerism. Major underwriters for this performance are Golden Belt Bank, Don C. Staab law firm and Cedar Lodge Dental.
Hays Community Theatre typically has a large production each summer, with other events through the year including a Christmas program and “Haunted Hays” Halloween tours.
“We’re excited to continue bringing arts to the Hays community,” Pratt said. “We’re excited to welcome people of all ages, and we definitely want to thank all of our supporters, both of time and financial contributions.”