HomeArticlesDisney’s “Mary Poppins” takes the stage in Peoria, then downtown Phoenix

Disney’s “Mary Poppins” takes the stage in Peoria, then downtown Phoenix

See Disney’s “Mary Poppins” at Arizona Broadway Theatre June 1-30 and at Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix July 6-22. Renée Kathleen Koher stars as Mary Poppins, and Chris McNiff plays Bert. Photos courtesy of Arizona Broadway Theatre.


Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke practically made that a household word in the 1964 movie “Mary Poppins.” And now there’s a sequel, “Mary Poppins Returns,” in theaters on Christmas in the U.S. following an earlier release in Britain, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Before that, audiences can enjoy the magic live onstage of Disney’s “Mary Poppins” at Arizona Broadway Theatre June 1-30. Then, ABT and the Herberger Theatre Center will co-present the show in downtown Phoenix, July 6-22.

“We’re excited about the movie sequel coming up this winter,” says Kat Barnes, ABT’s marketing manager. “We’ve actually taken to saying, ‘See the original before you see the sequel this Christmas!’”

In the story, the nanny of all nannies, Mary Poppins has her hands full with the naughty, out-of-control children of the Banks household. Using both common sense and magic, accompanied by lots of infectious music and dance, she takes the children, Jane and Michael, through a number of memorable adventures with the help of jack-of-all-trades Bert and an assortment of astonishing characters. Not only do the children learn their lessons, the adults find they can learn a few things too.

Renée Kathleen Koher, in her 21st mainstage production at ABT, is playing one of her all-time favorite Disney characters: Mary Poppins. She has also worked with Disney Cruise Line and Tokyo Disney Resort as a singer and aerialist in multiple shows on the high seas and in Japan.

Playing Bert is Chris McNiff, most recently seen in his second year on the national tour of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” He was also seen on the 2015 national tour of “Memphis.”

Four young actors, all making their ABT debuts, share the roles of Jane and Michael. Gracie Palmer and Julianne Creed play Jane. Gracie’s first love is acting. The 11-year-old has also been seen as the Unicorn in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” at Theater Works, as Cornelia in “Hamlet: A Tragedy in Three Rings” at Pinnacle Creative Arts, and mostly recently as Vivian in “Revenge of the Space Pandas” for Starlight Community Theater.

Julianne, who just finished sixth grade, loves to perform and has appeared in school productions as Gracie Shinn in “The Music Man,” Young Fiona in “Shrek The Musical Jr.” and Young Wilbur in “Charlotte’s Web.”

The young actors sharing the role of Michael are Wyatt Chamoff and Aaron McCaskill. Wyatt, who is 9, will begin fourth grade in the fall. He has most recently been seen as Templeton the Rat in “Charlotte’s Web” for Desert Foothills Theater and has also appeared for DFT as Chip in “Beauty and the Beast” and Doctor Dan in “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley Jr.” In addition, he has appeared as Little Shrek in Valley Youth Theatre’s “Shrek the Musical.”

A home-schooled seventh grader, 11-year-old Aaron McCaskill loves being onstage. Other Valley roles include Fossa in “Madagascar” at Queen Creek Performing Arts and Piglet in Valley Youth Theater’s “A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail.” He has also played Kevin in “Robin Hood and His Merry Men,” Dennis in “All Shook Up” and Ching Ho in “Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.,” all for Actor’s Youth Theater.

Disney’s “Mary Poppins” is Arizona Broadway Theatre’s 100th mainstage production. Just another reason — as if any is needed — to come see the magic.

If you go June 1-30: Noon and 5:30 p.m. on select dates. Prices vary but typically range from $35-$95 for dinner and show. Arizona Broadway Theatre, 7701 W. Paradise Lane, Peoria. 623-776-8400 or azbroadway.org. If you go July 6-22: 1, 2, 7, and 7:30 p.m. on select dates. $44-$73, plus fees. Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix. 602-252-8497 or herbergertheater.org.

ABT joins Herberger Theater Center

Arizona Broadway Theatre announced last year it will join Arizona Opera and Childsplay as new resident companies at the Herberger Theater Center. Beginning in September, ABT will present its Broadway at the Herberger Series:

The first production, Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” is onstage Sept. 4-16 at the Herberger only, a first for Arizona Broadway Theatre. A heart-pounding thriller, the Tony Award-winning musical set in 19th century London tells the dark tale of a barber’s quest for revenge.

“An American in Paris” is next, at ABT Jan. 25-March 1, 2019, and at the HTC March 8-24. Choreographed by ABT’s Kurtis Overby and inspired by the 1951 Academy Award-winning film starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the show features the much-loved music of George and Ira Gershwin.

The third show in the Broadway at the Herberger Series is “The Addams Family,” which runs June 7-July 6, 2019, at ABT and July 8-28 at HCT. The unthinkable has happened in the kooky, upside-down world of the Addams family: Daughter Wednesday has fallen in love with a nice young man from a normal, respectable family. What’s more, she’s invited his family to dinner with hers. It’s a family dinner no one will forget.




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