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Classic musical coming to North High Auditorium
April 11, 2018

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After performing several more modern musicals over the last few years, director Michele Whitener decided to do something a little more traditional for this, the final musical she will direct.

"Mary Poppins" will be presented by the North Fort Myers High School Center for Arts and Media for five performances Thursday through Sunday at the high school auditorium.

"Mary Poppins" is a musical about a nanny who visits a dysfunctional family in London and employs her unique lifestyle to bring the family back together.

"It's been a few years since we've done an old-school musical and Mary Poppins was a hit when I was a child," Whitener said. "It's my last year, and I wanted to go find a show that someone from age 4 to 74 would enjoy."

While there will be no dancing with animated scenery, they will have British accents and Mary Poppins will fly, as will Bert the chimney sweep, a first for the play at North.

Whitener said the students have been trained in the flying mechanism by the company Vertigo, which brought in the equipment, and under adult supervision.

Katie Means stars as Mary Poppins, who said it's been a lot of fun playing the lead role and speaking in a British accent. It's the flying that the junior had to get used to.

"That was nuts. I didn't expect it to hurt as much as it did. All your weight is in this harness and it pulls in the wrong places. But it's better now," Means said.

The Poppins character is graceful and stoic as she flies. For Michael Johnson, who plays the cockney Bert, his character is a lot more elastic, and his flight shows it.

"In all my years of theater, I never thought I would land a role like this. You work in an ensemble and one day, boom," Johnson said. "It's awesome to fly. There were butterflies the first time, and it did hurt at first. But when I get to do those flips it all pays off."

Wyatt Madonna plays Mr. Banks, while Shelby Ironmonger plays his wife. Real life brother and sister Nicholas and Megan Salerno will play Michael and Janes Banks.

Nicholas is a seventh-grader at Oasis Middle School, while Megan is a sophomore who passes well as someone younger.

Megan said she is used to playing little kids and, along with Nicholas, has played this role in other performances.

"I love playing Jane because it's such a fun part. She's really sassy and I like that about her," Megan said.

"When Megan got cast, they were looking for a Michael and I got the role. I played Michael Banks at Broadway Palm this summer so I knew the role," Nicholas said.

As this is Whitener's last production, Means said being the lead in it is something special.

"It's something she will never forget, and it's cool because she is like Mary Poppins, she's perfect in practically every way," Means said.

The Thursday and Friday performances will be at 7 p.m., with two performances on Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. and a Sunday performance at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $5 for staff, students and seniors over 65, and $10 for adults.

North Fort Myers High School is at 5000 Orange Grove Blvd.

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