Mary Poppins Production at Oaklawn Magnet

Mary Poppins Production at Oaklawn Magnet
Posted on 10/26/2018
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Each year, our Oaklawn Visual and Performing Arts (OVPA) Magnet School chooses a theme as a guide for school activities, student art/music/dance projects, general building and classroom decoration/displays, and special events like the renowned annual student production. The “Believe in Yourself and Magic Will Happen” theme underlies the current 2018-2019 school year, alongside the Broadway Jr. production of Mary Poppins, Jr. The production is special for so many reasons, mostly because it includes all 1st-5th grade OVPA students who want to participate. Student actors, singers, dancers, and musicians are showcased each fall during this memorable play that is entirely arranged by staff and community volunteers. The Broadway-experience is free for students through fundraisers and other school support.


OVPA has been hosting a student production for the past 15 years, beginning with the Broadway Musical Cinderella in the fall of 2003. Since that time, students have enjoyed roles in Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Wizard of Oz, Jungle Book, Aladdin, and many more. Photos of each production line the hallways to honor the legacy of talent from many years. Join us November 13 and November 15 at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. for unforgettable student performances in Mary Poppins, Jr., at our OVPA Auditorium.


“It is truly an amazing experience that brings joy and excitement to the students, staff, parents, and the Hot Springs Community. The OVPA staff are amazing in coming together to ensure students are in the right spot at the right time and in the correct costumes for their time in the spotlight,” says OVPA Principal Mr. Jason Selig. “The OVPA Arts Staff truly goes above and beyond in preparing costumes, choreography, set designs, music, stage lighting, and logistics in anticipation of the annual debut.  It is absolutely incredible to see how great the students perform under pressure and to a standing room only audience. It is truly a magical and must-see performance,” he said.


How does a production that includes between 500-600 students come together? The OVPA Art Team selects a theme and production for the next school year each May. A male and female script is sent home with any who want to try out for a main cast part. Students have the summer to prepare for auditions in August. New students to any school year may also request the script, but have less time to prepare. Auditions for main cast members take place during the second week of school. A grading rubric is used by the Arts Team to rate students on their singing, stage presence, and acting. The top 20 highest scores are chosen for the main cast. Those students are then invited back to begin after school practices. During practices Mr. Hogue and Mrs. Clayton further assess student performances to determine which children are assigned to respective roles.


With the main cast chosen, the Oaklawn Arts Team involves all other students and multiple talents of many to create an inspiring full musical production. Students from 1st-5th grade are assigned roles throughout the play during specific songs and dance portions. The size of each group of singers or dancers, or both, is entirely dependent on student interests by grade during any given year.


This year, 52 students (in 3rd-5th grades) auditioned for the Mary Poppins, Jr. main cast of 19 roles. After school practice began on August 28, which includes three 1 ½ hour after school practices every week until November 13. This year, 1st, 4th, and 5th graders will play penguins, animals, and butterflies and sing “Jolly Holiday.” 2nd grade students will be dressed as spoons and sugar bags and sing “Spoonfull of Sugar.” 3rd grade students will dress in brightly colored shirts with letters and food  pieces and perform and sing to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Students performing outside the main cast participate in two performances on the first or second day of the show.


Students in the main cast this year include: LaRon Samuel as Bert; Styhl Townes  as George Banks; Mariah Sanders as Winifred Banks; Valerie Sutton as Jane Banks; Ryan Tedford as Michael Banks; Lexis Scott as Katie Nanna; Marion Dryden as Mrs. Brill; Cordaylan Robinson as Roberton Ay; Anani Coleman as Mary Poppins; Mya Nduku as Neleus; Zameriah Hendrix as Bird Woman; Kinsley Hammock as Mrs. Smythe; Bethany Olson as Chairman; Madelyn Tedford  as Von Hussler; Lola Segura as John Northbrook; Courtland Sanders as Mrs. Corry; Madison Mann as Miss Andrew; Lexis Scott as Policeman; Rayleigh Rauda as Messenger; and Cadence Weatherford as The Chimney Sweeper.


Who is the OVPA Arts Team? Because Oaklawn is a Visual and Performing Arts Magnet, all staff are involved in some way with the annual theme and production. Staff members and leadership go above and beyond to make the school experience of all students interwoven with a creative curriculum of music and strings, dance, art, theatre, technology, and physical education. The Arts Team dedicates time during and after school to create a performance each fall that has become a cornerstone to the community. District Arts Facilitator Mrs. Kerry Deardorff makes all costumes, and helps with sets, programming, and facilitates all day-to-day practices and planning. Theatre Teacher and Production Director Mr. Steve Hogue is involved in all aspects of planning, designing, and implementing the play. Art Teacher Mrs. Allison Cole  designs the stage setup, prop design and more. Strings and Kindergarten Music Teacher Mrs. Zeigler helps with set design and props. Dance Teacher Mrs. Katie Yates arranges for all production choreography. Music Teacher Mrs. Clayton is is responsible for teaching all main cast members songs and teaches 1st-5th graders hand motions and the song(s) for their roles. Media Specialist, Mrs. Jessica Jeffers assists with costumes and prop design, and creates other support materials including the program, technology support, and more.Technology Lab Assistant Mrs. Cheri Huff helps with anything needed, and P.E. Coach Mr. Mike Wyatt helps build set pieces, among other items.The entire Arts Team assists with the dress rehearsal and the actual play - in greeting guests, arranging students, stage and props transitions, sound and audio, and more.

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Learn more about our #HSSD OVPA, here.  


Join us November 13 and November 15 at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the Mary Poppins, Jr. production at our OVPA Auditorium. Then - to ensure that all students experience a performance every school year - OVPA kindergarten students perform during a special holiday concert on December 18. In January, K-5th graders will begin planning and practicing for spring recitals in choir, strings, and dance, as well as a Talent Show in May.