‘Mary Poppins’ visits Marine Park! Students at neighborhood school perform stage adaptation of classic film

Stars of the show: Middle-schoolers from Public School 207 performed “Mary Poppins” on Jan. 10 and 11, starring, from left, Grace Gillen as Bert, Frank Cappiello as Michael Banks, and Kristy McDonough as Jane Banks.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

It was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Aspiring actors at a Marine Park middle school brought the house down with their back-to-back performances of “Mary Poppins” this month.

More than 30 PS 207 students took the stage to show off their thespian talents on Jan. 10 and 11, performing an adaptation of the beloved 1964 film with more than a spoonful of professionalism, according to the teacher who directed the show.

“I was beyond proud of the students — they even put on a British accent,” said Kim Simek, an educator at the Fillmore Avenue school, who also runs its drama club.

Many of the sixth-through-eighth-grade students in the cast had never acted before, according to Simek, who said the show featured other students’ first performances in leading roles — including seventh grader Ava Ercolino, who starred as Mary Poppins, and her classmates Frank Capiello and Kristy McDonough, who played the titular nanny’s young charges, Michael and Jane Banks.

And another seventh grader, Grace Gillen, charmed the audience as chimney-sweeper Bert, delivering an endearing rendition of “Chim Chimney” as part of her dazzling performance, the director said.

The kids started rehearsing back in September, dedicating time to practice after school as many as three times per week, according to Simek, who said the show’s plot — which alternates between realism to fantasy — presents a challenge to seasoned performers, let alone amateur actors.

“You’re going from lifted spirits and skipping around to being angry, upset, and serious,” she said.

But the kids kicked any lingering nerves as soon as the curtain went up, according to the teacher-director.

“All of them seemed so happy to be there, so excited and passionate to be up on stage,” Simek said.

Another educator who built the show’s set credited the performances’ success to its cast’s camaraderie.

“What I really loved about it was the teamwork of the cast members, how they supported each other and cheered each other on. It was so amazing to watch them be so supportive of one another,” said Antoinette Spada.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
A spoonful of joy: Ava Ercolino played the magical nanny Mary Poppins in the eponymous musical.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

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