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‘Mary Poppins’ is ready to make things magical

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The umbrella-flying nanny is landing at the Albuquerque Little Theatre.

“Mary Poppins” will open at ALT with a 28-member cast on Friday, May 26.

Ryan Shepherd is Bert, and Sharee Garity is Mary in “Mary Poppins.”

Things are not going well for the Banks family. The children, Jane and Michael, are out of control, racing down the street to chase a lost kite. Mr. Banks insists they need a strict, no-nonsense caretaker. When a mysterious young woman appears at their doorstep, the family recognizes her as an answer to their prayers, but in a most peculiar way.

“It has fantasy in it, but the lessons Mary Poppins teaches are for everybody,” director Henry Avery said. ” … the wisdom of dealing with people and not being closed off and trying new things and keeping an open mind and an open heart.

“You think of it being about the kids, but it’s really about the father,” he continued. “That is the arc of the story. He’s something of a stuffed shirt.”

Using a combination of magic and common sense, Mary teaches the importance of a tidy nursery and of taking the medicine they need (with a spoonful of sugar). She also teaches the family to value one another again as she takes the children on magical, memorable adventures.

“She’s the thing that’s in all our hearts; that combination of magic and wonder that we’re just afraid to let out,” Avery said.

Sharee Garity stars as Mary.

“She’s the one who did Anna in ‘The King and I’,” Avery said, ” – a beautiful woman with a gorgeous voice.”

The production has grown into something of a family affair, with two of Garity’s sons, Hayden and Dallin, joining her on stage with her daughter Daphne.

ALT alum and local dentist Ryan Shepherd will play Bert the chimney sweep. He’ll be joined by his daughters Lucy and Sophie.

“He and his wife were both New York performers,” Avery said. “He is just a pro. He did ‘The Music Man’.”

Art Tedesco (“Evita,” “Spamalot”) plays Mr. Banks.

“It’s got so much dancing,” Avery continued. “You’ve got that huge chimney sweep number and ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’. In the movie, they did a lot of that with animation.” The crew is still working on that soaring umbrella.

The 1964 “Mary Poppins” movie was based on Pamela Travers’ books; the musical is based on the movie. London’s West End production opened in 2004, winning two Olivier Awards. The musical opened on Broadway in 2006, where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards. It closed in 2013.

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