WEEKI WACHEE — Everyone knows her. She is the perfect nanny with a magical carpetbag and umbrella who takes two children under her care on a magical journey and helps mend a fractured family.
The 1964 film Mary Poppins is among Walt Disney's most popular movies. Yet the musical version didn't hit the stage until 40 years later, based on the Disney film and stories by P.L. Travers.
The hit Broadway musical, which features most of the original Academy Award-winning music and lyrics of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, will be presented this weekend at Weeki Wachee High School.
"It is a show that everyone knows," said director Morgan Burburan, who is the director of choirs and musical theater at Weeki Wachee High. "It is fun-loving and has such an amazing message of hope, generosity and kindness."
The musical features favorite songs such as Jolly Holiday, A Spoonful of Sugar, Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious, Stuck in Time, Feed the Birds and Chim Chim Cher-ee.
Burburan said that while Mary Poppins is a vital part of the show, it really is not about her, but instead about the transformation of the Banks family.
“Feed the Birds was Walt Disney's favorite song ever," Burburan said. "And it is also what the entire play is about. It is about being more generous with your love than monetary gains."
Burburan couldn't be more proud of her cast. As Bert, Dakota Ruiz is "just incredible. He is charming and just draws the audience in," she said. Karlie Ulto, as Mary, "is the consummate professional who is prepared, poised and talented." And as Jane and Michael (the children), Ruby Graham and Kelsey Morrill are in practically every scene of the show. "Their parts are huge, and they must be spot on. … They do a great job."
Some other key players in the large cast of 32 include Alex Nelson as George Banks, Lyndsey Ruiz as Winnifred Banks, Amanda Waters as Miss Andrews, Marissa Piccinich as Mrs. Corry, Samantha Cascio as Mrs. Brill and Paris Vazquez as Robertson Ay, the houseboy.
The cast also features a large dance ensemble, with Katherine Burburan as the lead dancer. The dancers, Burburan said, are an important part of the show.
"This is a heavy dance show," she said. "The choreography is stellar, done by AJ and Kylee Troche of AK Dance Away. They are absolutely wonderful choreographers."
Along with assistance from AK Dance Away, Burburan said Randi Olsen and other members of Live Oak Theatre Company in Brooksville helped with providing costumes and assisting with lights and sound.
"This show was a large undertaking," Burburan admits. "But we are so grateful for the community support we've received. … It was community members partnering with us that allowed us to make this show successful."