CharACTers Entertainment is sweeping chimneys, spooning sugar, and tapping into its supercalifragalistic side with its production of "Mary Poppins," the classic Broadway musical about the adventure that one nanny and housekeeper brings to the London home of the Banks family.
Playing the role of the high-flying heroine is actress Jenni Hodges, with actor Chad Miller as Bert, her chimneysweeping best friend. Both Hodges and Miller are doing a bit of flying for their roles — they’ve been commuting from Birmingham just to be involved in the production.
Hodges says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
"When you surround yourself with people that are passionate about what you’re passionate about, I think it just kind of lures you in," says Miller, who has been involved with CharACTers for over a decade. "You’re willing to make the hour and 20 minute drive to do a show that you’re really enjoying with people that you love."
Though the musical and the iconic Disney film starring Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews share many similarities, Miller is quick to note that watching their live version won’t quite be a night at the movies.
"I find the story is a little bit more in-depth, as far as ... the issues of the family — the Banks family. What makes this production special, I think, is the message that it sends through trials and tribulations. You have to sort of get through the hustle and bustle of life and discover what it means to be a family. What it means to have the love of a family. We’re always going, we’re always moving...and we never have time to slow down and really savor and enjoy the moment. I think that’s what’s makes this show so special."
Adding to that special quality are actress Casey Browning and Caleb Clark as Mrs. Banks and George Banks, Ramsey Whitney and Chloe Justice as Jane and Jayden Davis and Caleb Womack as Michael. And, lest we forget, the stagehands, aka the "unsung heroes" of the production who are making all the special effects, set changes and high-flying moments happen, says Miller.
"The audience never gets to see them, and I’ll tell you right now those are the hardest working people I’ve ever seen backstage," he says of their efforts. "It really makes the show just feel like that Disney magic. We bring it to the Wallace Hall onstage."
Erin Williams is a freelance writer for The Anniston Star.