By: Tessa Perkins
Mary Poppins is tart, outspoken, and opinionated. Ranae Miller is a bit shy and quiet. “This is a character that’s the furthest from who I am that I’ve played,” Miller told The Peak. She’s enjoying embodying this strong-willed woman while bringing a bit of herself to the character at the same time. “She’s a little sassy, but still kind,” explained Miller. “She’s there to do a job and she has a lot of love to offer. She has a lot going for her.” The story of Mary Poppins also has a lot going for it. This musical is full of catchy songs, endearing characters, and a heartwarming message about the power of family.
Miller explained that this production at Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) has a focus on the story of the Banks family that we get a glimpse into. They need a little bit of help, and Poppins comes along at just the right time to work her magic. “Everyone has their own problems and no family is perfect,” said Miller. “We can relate to the Banks and know that you can get through anything with a family bond.”
“It’s definitely a story I grew up with; it’s a story everyone is so familiar with. I’m lucky to play such an iconic part,” said Miller. This is her TUTS debut, but she has plenty of experience with many local theatre companies including Gateway, Royal City Musical Theatre, Exit 22, and Fighting Chance Productions. Miller received an Ovation Award for Outstanding Newcomer in 2011.
Miller said she is fortunate to be playing alongside great scene partners, and she is enjoying working with Nolen Dubuc and Lola Marshall who play the Banks’ kids Michael and Jane. “I love kids, so it’s great that I get to play with them in rehearsal.”
It’s very difficult to choose a favourite song from the collection of catchy numbers, but Miller said she really enjoys “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” “It’s a little different than in the movie, and has crazy choreography and costumes,” said Miller. She loves the colourful exuberance of this scene, where the audience gets to see the oddities and quirkiness of the characters. The song “Jolly Holiday” is another very fun scene featuring a “surreal made-up world of pastel colours,” as Miller described it.
Of course, the eternally catchy “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” will be crowd pleasers as well. If all this wasn’t enough to get you excited about the show, Olivia the dog is sure to steal the spotlight as Willoughby, the neighbour’s spoiled pooch.
“People will take away from this a thrilling experience,” enthused Miller. The magical Malkin Bowl will be a perfect setting for this inspiring story, as Poppins swoops in to teach us all a thing or two about family, imagination, and having fun while striving to be practically perfect in every way.
Mary Poppins is presented in repertory with The Drowsy Chaperone by Theatre Under the Stars at Malkin Bowl from July 7 to August 19. For more information, visit tuts.ca.