Canby production of 'Mary Poppins' features familiar face
These days Jason Katz and his daughter Samantha are feeling supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. That's because the pair are part of nearby Canby Community Theatre's current production of "Mary Poppins, The Broadway Musical" with performances that will run through Saturday, Aug. 5.
The classic story about a magical nanny, "Mary Poppins" is a fantastical tale largely about finding the silver lining in every situation. Canby Community Theatre's adaptation is directed by Craig Holbrook, with music direction by Hannah Feeney and choreography by Maddie Brockman.
Jason Katz, who is the theater director at Wilsonville High School during the school year, says he's made an effort to get involved in community theater in recent summers, and selected Canby's production of "Mary Poppins" because of the story as well as the quality of cast and crew. He performed in Tigard community productions of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" as well as "Singing in the Rain," in previous summers, sharpening his skills as an actor while getting the chance to enjoy theater from the other side of the curtain.
"It's great to be able to play a part and not really have to worry about the set coming together, where's this person, where's that person and the little minutia and details of the lights and everything else," Katz says. "It's nice to not have to worry about all of that and just be responsible for my performance, make sure I have my lines and don't miss any entrances, make sure that I'm feeling good about my part and all that. It's also fun to get to know different group of people."
Samantha Katz plays Fannie, a dancer, and Jason Katz plays Bert, one of the production's lead roles. He says playing Bert has been particularly enjoyable. A goofy, happy-go-lucky character, Katz says the role has come natural to him and one that has allowed him to stretch the boundaries of his acting.
"He's great. He's kind of like a renaissance man. He sort of comes from the magical realm that Poppins comes from so he's kind of jolly and wants to be helpful," Katz says. "He's kind of a big kid in a way, which suits me very well because I sort of feel like that myself sometimes. There's a lot of me in Bert and it's a natural extension of me."
Rehearsals for "Mary Poppins" began toward the beginning of June and ramped up in July. Katz says he's enjoyed working with a talented group of actors, who hail from all over the Portland metro area. Wilsonville High sophomore Natalie Young is also in the performance, alongside a handful of other Wilsonville residents, all of whom make up a cast of about 45. But working with his daughter — who has attended theater camp by day and rehearsals by night the past couple weeks — has been the best part of all for Katz.
"It's really more just like father-daughter time," Katz says. "I feel like it's fun time to spend together and I also feel like, since this is what she wants to do — she wants to go to school for musical theatre — To get to play a part with her that's a major part and show my skill and feel good about my part, I feel like I'm setting a good example of her."
Katz has needed pointers from his daughter, particularly around some of the dance numbers, which he says have the biggest challenge for him. While that piece of the musical has provided a few nerves, he says he's excited more than anything to be part of the elaborate production. The musical runs through Saturday, Aug. 5, and is performed at the Richard R. Brown Fine Arts Center in Canby.
"Community theater can vary greatly depending on the skill and knowhow of the people putting it on, but this is a pretty good show," Katz says. "The director is great and there are some really talented actors," Katz says. "It's an enjoyable show that people will know and have fun watching."
If you Go
WHAT: "Mary Poppins, The Broadway Musical"
WHEN: Friday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
WHERE: 950 S.W. 5th Avenue, Canby
COST: Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the door