Apollo Summer Theater Workshop presents 'Mary Poppins: The Musical'
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Ashley Fink is “practically perfect in every way” as she takes on the iconic children’s storybook nanny in the Apollo Civic Theatre’s 2017 Summer Theater Workshop of “Mary Poppins: The Musical.”
The show opened Thursday morning, with other performances scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 21, and Saturday, July 22, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 23, at the downtown Martinsburg theater. The show is directed by Anthony Brooks.
Ashley, who is an 18-year-old Martinsburg High School graduate, said she grew up watching the 1964 movie version that starred Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke as the chimney sweep Bert.
To give Mary Poppins her spin, Ashley said she did her research.
“I studied a bunch of different Mary Poppins from Broadway and took bits and pieces of how they did accents and how they portrayed Mary Poppins and intertwined my own personality and made it my own,” she said.
Ashley, who will attend Fairmont (W.Va.) State University this fall to major in theater and psychology, has been a part of Apollo’s summer theater program for three years.
“This is my last show so I wanted to be a part of it, no matter what the show was,” she said.
This staged musical version of “Mary Poppins” was produced in 2004, and was based on the original Disney movie, with additional lyrics. Ashley said the lessons that Mary teaches in the show are rubbing off on the cast.
“This production is very special to me because of the people in it, of course, and the people within it are special,” she said. “Everyone seems to engage with the lessons that Mary teaches and we apply it to our everyday lives. I really enjoy being part of this cast.”
Ashley loves being on stage.
“It’s an opportunity to express oneself and becoming someone else for awhile,” she said. “I love portraying different characters and engaging in another person’s traits and applying that kind of stuff to my own life. I love being on stage and performing. I’ve been dancing and singing since I was 3, so I love being part of the arts.”
Chase Kipps, 14, of Inwood, W.Va., plays the Cockney chimney sweep, Bert. And Chase feels he’s been perfectly cast.
“He’s kind of like me: charismatic and upbeat and everything,” he said.
When he first started in the show, Chase, who will be a freshman at Musselman High School this fall, said he was a little stiff on stage. But that changed when he received some direction.
“I looked scared on stage until Anthony said, ‘Be yourself,’” he said.
This is Chase’s first time in the summer workshop. He previously appeared in Apollo shows “High School Musical” and “Shenandoah.”
He said what he likes the most about the show is simply his cast.
“The people in the show is what I like about the show,” he said. “Everyone’s so nice to be around.”
Ashley echoes the sentiments of her castmate.
“I’m sure I’ll probably tear up at the last show,” she said. “I really love this show because it’s very magical, everyone’s engaged, everyone enjoys the lessons that Mary teaches and we’ve just been a huge family from the start.”
And, she said, so many people can connect with the show.
“This show teaches a lot of lessons, not just for the kids, but for the adults as well,” she said. “Mary Poppins introduces a bunch of different characters throughout the show, and at the end, they all come back and they’re flying through the heavens to see all the characters introduced to the children one last time. And family is an important aspect of life.”
Chase has a reason why everyone needs to attend the show: “Because it’s the greatest show of Mary Poppins. We are the cast that’s going to make anything happen.”