SIOUX CENTER—The seventh- and eighth-grade students of Sioux Center Christian School brought forth their annual school play with a spoonful of sugar and talented performances as they delighted full-house audiences Friday-Saturday, Feb. 1-2, at Te Paske Theatre in Sioux Center.
Disney’s musical, Mary Poppins Jr., is based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney film. Original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman seemed to suit the students well as they pulled off a very musical. The difference between the regular Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Jr. is the total number of scenes. In the junior version, the plate falling trick or the breaking table is not used.
“Our Mary Poppins also doesn’t actually fly in our show,” said third-year play producer and director, Eileen Buiter. “This one was challenging. The sets are crazy, all the scene changes have to happen within 19 seconds and all in the music which adds to the challenge. Then there are the sheer number of costumes.”
The play had 30 actors and another 30 who worked behind the scenes. The play also has more than 130 costumes that Buiter said all saw action.
Opening night saw the kids hiding jitters well and for a lot of first-timers to the stage, they responded like veterans.
“The big challenge on opening night was that we were still having trouble with some of the microphones,” Buiter said. “We had a dad who knew how to run the sound system come in and he saved us and managed to get all the mics working properly, so that was huge.”
Buiter said there were a few missed lines, but that overall she was pleased with the performances.
“The most fun has been working with the kids,” Buiter said. “This has just been a really enthusiastic group of kids that are willing to try anything and have really stepped up to the plate.”
Seventh-grader Dylan Koelewyn, who played Bert, was onstage for his first career performance and his singing and acting reflected a youngster who appeared very poised and well-suited for the role. He admitted offstage he was a “little bit” nervous, but a natural onstage his performance was impressive for a seventh-grader who one day aspires to be a teacher.
“Getting onstage in front of the people was just kind of nerve-wracking,” Koelewyn said. “It was my first time and there were so many people. I just try to do everything that makes God happy.”
Anna De Jong, a seventh-grader who aspires to be a missionary to South America someday, played Mary Poppins and was as cool as a cucumber as she fell into the role and attitude of Poppins as soon as she hit the stage. Her “spit-spot” was spot on. De Jong is no stranger to the stage, having been in other school plays and acted in the summer play, “Gulliver’s Travels.” That experience showed in her confidence as a performer.
“I felt really good onstage,” De Jong said. “It was really fun and I wasn’t nervous at all, surprisingly. When I auditioned, I prayed really hard and asked God what He wanted me to do and what part He wanted me to get. I just try to glorify God onstage.”
The kids had been working on the play since mid-October and the hard work produced a play that thrilled audiences both nights, “in the most delightful way.”