Ashley Brown, the woman who originated the role of Mary Poppins on Broadway, recently performed with Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, just in time for Pittsford Sutherland High School’s production of the musical.
Sutherland students Natalie Leclair and Caroline Kunz attended the performance. Both will appear in the school’s upcoming production of “Mary Poppins.” Leclair, a junior, will play Mary Poppins and Kunz, a freshman, will play Jane Banks.
RPO staff offered Leclair and Kunz the opportunity to meet Brown after her performance. Brown offered encouragement and advice to the students. She said she understood the rigors of repeated performances.
“Make sure you hit the gym and build up your stamina, and get lots of rest — sleep and vocal rest,” Brown said.
Brown starred as Mary Poppins on Broadway for two years, and typically performed eight shows each week. Brown was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League Award and Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of the persnickety, but lovable, nanny.
While on the Eastman stage, Brown complimented RPO and conductor Jeff Tyzik for their musicianship, and praised the audience for their support of the arts.
“Keep it up,” Brown said. “It truly makes a difference for your community.”
During her private meeting with the students, Brown was sympathetic when informed that Sutherland Musicals is still searching for sponsors to pay for the rigging that allows Mary Poppins to fly above the stage. Brown told the students to keep pursuing their dreams.
Brian Bohrer is a new choral director at Pittsford Central School District, and is directing his first musical at Sutherland.
“We knew we would have to reach out to the community to get extra support to put on this musical,” Bohrer said. “We are hoping local businesses or groups of arts supporters will come together to help us reach our goal. We want to make it magical for the audience to see Mary fly.”
Bohrer said that the group is shy of meeting its fundraising goals, despite recent fundraisers at Applebee’s and Chipotle. Alex and Ani, 236 High Street Extension, Victor, will hold a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 27.
It costs $5,000 for professional flight services provided by Flying by Foy.
“Musicals, even on the high school level, are getting more and more expensive to put on,” Bohrer said. “Yet, we know intricate productions add to everyone’s enjoyment and exponentially improve the student experience. Several of our graduates are pursuing acting and music theater in college, and their desire developed out of the love they formed for the stage while in high school productions. We’d be happy to come perform some numbers for any interested donors, so they too can get into the spirit of ‘Mary Poppins.’ It would be ‘supercalifragilistic’ if we could get the extra support we need.”
Pittsford Sutherland HS, 55 Sutherland St., will present “Mary Poppins” at 7 p.m. on March 15-17 and 2 p.m. on March 17. Tickets will be available online at showtix4u.com starting March 1.
Email tracy_dickerson@pittsford.monroe.edu for information about becoming a sponsor or patron.