Northeast Student-Led Musical Mary Poppins Runs Friday-Sunday


After a month of building sets, a student production of “Mary Poppins the Musical” is ready to open this Friday at Northeastern High School in Manchester.

It took 18 students 13 full days of work, spread over a month, to build the $8,000 set to carry the two-hour musical.

According to music director Lauren Ward, auditions for the roles began before Thanksgiving, but the stage crew couldn’t begin work on set until all of the district’s Christmas concerts — also held in high school — were held. weren’t finished. Work on the set began on the first Wednesday of January. The orchestra also began rehearsing in January.

The main element of the scene is a two-story frame and drywall structure that houses several rooms and an intricate staircase with a landing. Rolling sets and a device to help an actor fly were also built and will be rolled on stage during production.

Ward, who took over this year, says it’s the first time in 30 years that Northeastern has produced a student-led production. Students are instructed with skills and take control of the entire process, from building the set to selling advertisements to making posters.

Ward, also chair of the school’s math department, wants to turn the annual set construction of a school theater production into an extension of a class she teaches, Math in the Trades. In the classroom, students apply their math skills to a future career in the construction trades.

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“How are you supposed to get the next generation to do anything if you don’t train them to do it when they’re kids?” Ward added: “How do you show them the different career opportunities?”

“Most of us didn’t even know how to use a hammer before this, so (we built) an entire house,” Kianna Rivera, a freshman and stage operator, said during the last day of building.

“The biggest challenge is taking initiative on things, acting as a group and staying focused on things,” said Ellie Shipley, senior director and stage director, adding, “I have the felt like it gave me good life skills if I was to work on a future project like my future home.

As the final broom swept through the work of the last day of work, stage crew director Dave Heltzel gathered the 18 students of the stage crew for a few final words: “We make actors look good. ” Ward added, “You do, think about it if they were just standing here on a black stage.”

Heltzel, who is Ward’s father and has worked in theater for 52 years and as a director in schools since 1996, concluded: “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve had a lot of different teams, but for the very first time this crew has come together in an amazing way.

“Mary Poppins the Musical” opens Friday at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Northeastern High School, with shows also on Saturday at 7 p.m. and one on Sunday that begins with a Tea Time with Mary Poppins from 11 a.m. and the show at 2 p.m.

Advance tickets for shows and tea time can be purchased at

I’ve been capturing life through the lens since 1983 and am currently a visual reporter with the USAToday Network. You can reach me at [email protected]