Brookwood Theatre Exceeds Expectation


Thatcher Rotenberry, Chief of Staff

Brookwood High School’s Production of Mary Poppins overcomes challenges that would have been inconceivable merely three weeks prior. Coming at the tail end of the worst flu season that America has seen since before the covid-19 pandemic, the production would saddle the cast with the burden of their own health. Upon entering the back stage of the theatre, the toll of the flu on the cast would be impossible to ignore. Ensemble member Madi Abston would appear ghost white as she has just recently recovered from the flu; every cast member would seem to isolate in their dressing room in the little bit of free time they receive, painting an empty feeling compared to the lively and bustling environment a musical theatre veteran has come to expect. While it may seem a sign of poor health, the empty green room of the Bama theatre would soon be an obvious sign of intense dedication. The cast had been isolating themselves to prevent losing a member of the cast to illness, throwing out the prospect of a social play week that has long attracted people to David Blackwell’s Program in favor of lonesome practice and reflection on the show. 

As the show begins, the pale faces seen backstage light up in a type of ecstasy only a craft of pure love can provide. From the first cord of the first track of the show, you see the physical acting of Abigail Barbin shine, as well as the child like behavior of Addison Brown. Upon McKinley Hubbard’s first appearance as the titular Mary Poppins, her well-crafted rosy voice and official stance creates a wonderful depiction of the iconic character. Deacon Griffin’s use of wide arching motions makes the eccentric character of Bert feel at home on the stage of the Bama Theatre. While the main characters are nothing if not excellent, the ensemble and their excellent use of every ounce of space provided by the Bama theatre is what makes this play stand out from previous Blackwell productions. The full range of motion provided by Jolly Holiday puts the audience at the center of the number. One of the most unique aspects of Brookwood’s depiction of Mary Poppins is the creative use of colors in the set. Precision and Order uses grey hues and shadows to excellent effect, with the lights focusing and brightening as the tension of the song builds and falls. In the transition from Spoon Full of Sugar and Feed the Birds, McKinley Hubbard’s vocal range comes into the limelight. The upbeat tune in Spoon Full of Sugar can’t help but lift the spirits of the most miserable audience member, while Feed the Birds could push a grizzled emotionless monster to the verge of tears. 

As the tension of the story builds, the quick scene changes and vocal comparison between Bert and Mary matches the fast-paced motion of life that the show portrays. The marriage of vocals in Chim Chim Cher-ee connect the emotional beats and build to a melancholy moment seemingly unparalleled in the world of Brookwood theatre. The Chim Chim Cher-ee track also makes affective use of effects and technology that hasn’t been used since the 2021 production Alladin. The use of practical effects in Lets Fly a Kite is a welcomed change after their absence in the previous year’s productions of Frozen and Shrek 

Whether you are a parent with small children, a teenager looking to relive a childhood classic, or a theatre fan in the community, this production of Mary Poppins is more than worth your time to go and see.