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Alluvion gears up for largest production to date, 'Mary Poppins'

March 28, 2014 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

'Mary Poppins'

  • April 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26; May 2*, 3, 10 - 7:30 p.m.
     
  • April 19 - 2 p.m.

  • April 13, 27; May 4, 11 - 3 p.m.

  • April 22, 28; May 8, 9 - 10:00 a.m. (Open to school groups only)

To purchase tickets, visit the Tower Theater website or call the Liberty University Box Office at (434) 582-SEAT (7328) during weekday business hours. On the night of a performance, call the Tower Box Office at (434) 582-2085.

* Talkback performance: A Q&A will be held after the show with the director, designers, and selected actors.

With just a few weeks remaining before the opening date of Disney’s “Mary Poppins” on April 11 at the Tower Theater, Alluvion Stage Company is in full swing preparing for its largest production to date.

Alluvion is the professional arm of the Liberty University Department of Theatre Arts, giving students, alumni, and local professionals the opportunity to collaborate in regional theater. The company also brings in guest artists to raise the level of expertise both on stage and behind the scenes. For “Mary Poppins,” Alluvion has hired a guest music director, a flight director, and a Broadway choreographer.

“We are very excited to have all of these guest artists join us … They bring a whole new level of excellence,” said Linda Nell Cooper, Alluvion’s artistic director. “Our goal with Alluvion is for every show to raise the bar somehow; they have helped us to do that.”

Geoffrey Goldberg, who has toured the country as both a performer and a director for more than 10 years, has worked with productions of “Mary Poppins” for five years and is restaging the Broadway choreography for the Tower stage. He said his familiarity with the production is a huge asset to the show.

“Having been so familiar with Mary for so many years, I feel like I know every nuance and every little bit of the show and I’m able to bring out the best in the performers and the best in the choreography and the best in the text and music,” he said.

Goldberg added that each production still has its own personality and loves that Alluvion’s show focuses on the magic and whimsy of the P.L. Travers novels.

“Cooper as the director has really been embracing a lot of these magical elements and finding moments and different ways into the magic of Mary and the really fun world of Cherry Tree Lane, things that I have not had a chance to explore before,” Goldberg said. “The way we are embracing the storytelling with the set and different technical elements, like flying, are really going to pop off the stage in a way that I don’t think Alluvion has done before.”

“Mary Poppins” includes a cast of 40 members and requires about 200 costumes along with several costume changes throughout the show. The production also features a great deal of magic and special effects, including aerial stunts that differ from those seen in previous shows.

“We can’t talk about the magic,” Cooper teased. “You have to come see it for yourself.”

Perhaps the most noticeable element to this production is its massive set, which includes five levels. Cooper said transitioning from a one-level rehearsal room to the five-tier stage will be a challenge. But all the behind-the-scenes details make an overwhelming difference when the curtain comes up.

“When that all comes together, you just sit back and you watch the story unfold as if it were born on that stage,” Cooper said. “You don’t even think about all the hours that went into painting and lighting and sewing — it’s as if it magically happened.”