BY JEFFREY GENUNG
NORWICH – After more than two decades of directing high school musicals, there isn’t much that Mark Sands hasn’t brought to the Norwich stage. From winds sweeping down the plains of Oklahoma to man-eating plants named Audrey to falling opera house chandeliers, he’s pretty much done it all – except for flying.
He’ll fix that this weekend in his NHS swan song, as Sands takes to the Purple stage one last time, directing the high school musical club’s production of “Mary Poppins.”
Best-known for the 1964 Disney film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, this version is special not only for its unique flying effects, but also because Norwich is one of the first schools in the nation to stage it – after a successful multi-year run on Broadway, the Cameron Mackintosh musical has only recently been licensed for local production.
Bringing to life such iconic characters – who sing, dance and even fly – is no small feat for the NHS troupe, who’ve been practicing their roles since January. Junior Kaitlyn Jackson, no stranger to the stage, portrays the titular character, whom she aptly describes as “practically perfect in every way.” As ethereal governess to the unruly Banks children, Ms. Poppins employs a bit of trickery in imparting important life lessons to her young charges. “That’s probably been the hardest part,” Jackson admits, “balancing her magic and whimsy with her being a prim and proper teacher. She’s almost like two opposing forces.”