Mary Poppins Receives Spotlight Recognition

Scott Larsen, Staff Writer

This year’s fall musical, Mary Poppins, received numerous top honors from Spotlight Education, which is a Hennepin Theatre Trust program that evaluates high school productions of musicals.

The honors Mary Poppins received were Outstanding Overall Production, Performance, Ensemble Performance, Technical Crew, Light & Sound Board Operators, Orchestra, Technical Team, Technical Team Leadership, Vocal Performance by an Ensemble, and Outstanding Performances for Maddie Newman, Katy Manderfeld, Annika Peterson, and Lance Sorenson.

Other recognitions the show received were Honorable Mentions for performances by Jon Motes and Casey Centner, as well as Evaluator Shout-outs for Alex Denniston, Carol Reinert, and Kayla Marie Mielke, according to Spotlight.

Director Grant Sorenson said, “To have the Spotlight Awards recognize the effort and the passion that made this show possible was validating because at the end of the day, all of the work and the long nights and the stress paid off and produced a piece of theater that was astonishing”.

According to Sophomore Alex Denniston, who played Bert in the show, it feels rewarding as an actor to be a part of a production that received this high praise. “It makes you feel good about what you did,” said Denniston.

“We’re a family, and everyone put everything they had in this show. There was so much support and love throughout the show process, and everyone’s work was truly outstanding,” said Junior Maddie Newman, who played the titular character. “Mary Poppins, the show and the character, mean the world to me, and have become such a large and important part of my life.”

But these accolades did not come without lots of effort. “I don’t think people realize how many individuals it takes to successfully produce a show of any size,” said Sorenson.“The actors get the applause at the end of the show, but behind the scenes…there is a whole network of people who are working to make sure our productions go off without a hitch.”

According to Sorenson, Mary Poppins was truly an outstanding production, as proven by those at Spotlight. But the real reward, was having a show “we were proud to be a part of.”

“What makes theater so special is that it relies heavily on the idea of ‘ensemble,’ of community, and a show lives or dies by the way it can rally a group of people together with one common goal,” said Sorenson. “It’s a lesson that can be applied to nearly everything we do in life.”