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Magic and music come to the New West stage in Mary Poppins

Royal City Musical Theatre Company’s production of Mary Poppins has a timely message: Be kind.
Music, dancing, and magic are part of Royal City Musical Theatre's 2024 production of Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins is bringing magic – as well as lots of music and dance – to the Massey Theatre stage this month.

Royal City Musical Theatre’s 2024 production, Mary Poppins, is now showing at Massey Theatre. The show runs until Sunday, May 12.

For those unfamiliar with Mary Poppins, here is a synopsis from RCMT:

“The jack-of-all trades, Bert, introduces us to England in 1910 and the troubled Banks family. Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorstep. Using a combination of magic and common sense, she must teach the family members how to value each other again. Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures, but Jane and Michael aren’t the only ones upon whom she has a profound effect. Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that ‘Anything can happen if you let it.’”

The Record recently caught up with artistic director Valerie Easton to get her thoughts on the Royal City Musical Theatre Company’s 2024 production.

Why Mary Poppins?

RCMT has a tradition of doing big, classic, musicals that appeal to everyone. Mary Poppins is particularly suitable for families, and we wanted to expand our audience in that area. The Massey Theatre is a beautiful venue, just right for a big show (with a big orchestra) like Mary Poppins.

How does this production compare to the beloved 1964 film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyck? Same songs?

It has many of the recognizable songs from the Disney (Supercalifrag – etc., Jolly Holiday, Chim Chiminey), but also some really nice surprises. 

The author of the Mary Poppins books (P.L. Travers) famously was at odds with Walt Disney about the way her books were being presented and fought with him all the way. The stage musical is much truer to her vision in the books. 

The Broadway production really focuses on the journey of the Banks family, and how they are affected by Mary Poppins.

 What should audiences expect from this year’s production of Mary Poppins?

Magic, lots of big dance numbers (P.L. Travers LOVED dancing), a great orchestra, and beautiful staging.

Can you tell us about your cast?

A cast of 30 committed performers.  Many recent graduates from professional training theatre programs from around the province and the country. 

The cast is led by four outstanding professional actors:  Meghan Gardiner as Mary (well-known in the Vancouver theatre scene), Darren Burkett as Bert (who started his career in his youth at RCMT!, and was most recently in the Broadway touring cast of Matilda of two years), Kirk Smith (most recently seen in the Arts Club production of Beautiful last summer), and Janet Gigliotti, veteran of many productions around Vancouver.

Any thoughts on the timing of this particular show – especially given all the issues taking place around the world?

Many of the themes of Mary Poppins are about being KIND to one another. Need I say more?

Is there anything else you’d like folks to know about this RCMT or this year’s show?

This has been such an amazing experience, working with such a talented group.  To see it all come together in such a beautiful way has been very fulfilling. 

The ensemble cast play so many roles, and to see them blossom has been inspiring. 

RCMT has a history of presenting first-class productions, and I think I can say with confidence that this year is no exception. Please come!

A production of this size would not be possible without the dedication of the volunteers we have from the local community. Ushers, backstage crew, programs sellers, our fabulous board of directors, and of course many of the performers.  Thank you.

 Has RCMT announced what next year’s production will be? 

 No.  We have chosen a show, but we cannot announce at this time. 

Let's just say it will be a surprise.  A delightful one!

Information about the Royal City Musical Theatre Society and tickets to Mary Poppins are available online.