The Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) concluded its 18th season with Mary Poppins the Musical (based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the 1964 Walt Disney film). Directed by Alberta-native Darold Roles, under the musical direction of Heather Burns (born on Vancouver Island) and with choreography by Janice Tooby-MacDonald and Caitlenn Bull, this production is a high-caliber graduation project for many of the diversely-talented performers at CCPA, who are beginning their national and international careers this summer. To include the school’s 70 performing students, the production features two casts (Yellow and Pink casts) on alternating performances, on stage from April 22 to April 30, 2016 at the McPherson Playhouse.
I had the pleasure of seeing the Yellow cast perform on the first Saturday night, with Julie Mombourquette (as Mary) and Chase Sander (as Bert) and was blown away by their performances, voices, and dancing skills. Also noteworthy were the vocal skills of Kira Renee (Mrs. Banks) and Devin Adams (Mr. Banks), as well as Victoria Stolting (bird woman) and Jesse Deutsch and Melissa Kahan (who play Michael and Jane Banks in both casts).
The production design by R. J. Peters was equally stunning. Mary flies across the stage several times and Bert gets to climb the imaginary chimney smoke stairs over the roofs of London, while the enchanted park scenes include dancing flowers, statues, policemen, and the dancing penguin waiters. The ensemble dance sequences are the high points of the show, with the whole cast dancing and singing together, while the chimney sweeps’ tap dance in the second act will make you want to dance and take tap lessons!
The musical (with a screenplay adapted by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows) first premiered in London’s West End in 2004, where it played for three and a half years, and then on Broadway, at the New Amsterdam Theatre in 2006, with 2,619 performances during its six years’ run.
With memorable songs such as “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Feed the Birds,” this show showcases top calibre Canadian emerging performers who train at Victoria’s Canadian College of Performing Arts. The college is owned and operated by The Canadian Heritage Arts Society (CHAS), a non-profit society and registered charity. CCPA benefits promising talent, attracting students from across the nation and around the world.
The College is owned by The Canadian Heritage Arts Society (CHAS). The society is a registered charity, and a dynamic and vibrant organization that contributes greatly to the wonderful quality of life that we enjoy in Canada.Its mission includes providing instruction and training in performing arts, offer artistic appreciation and awareness to the public, as well as to preserve and promote heritage arts and culture.
CCPA is one of Canada’s top training centres for a career in the arts. Over the past 17 years, the College has made a difference in the lives of gifted young artists who have taken major steps towards their goals of becoming performers, teachers and arts leaders in communities across the country. Graduates of the college have celebrated unprecedented success in 2014-2015 including:
- Mission BC’s Carly Rae Jepsen following her Broadway debut as Cinderella, launched her new album Emotion to critical acclaim.
- Nanaimo, BC’s Cate Richardson played opposite Blake Lively in the major motion picture The Age of Adaline.
- Toronto’s Matt Alfano and Galen Johnson, North Battleford, Saskatchewan’s Matthew Armet, and Victoria BC’s Elliott Loran all performed in the 2014 Stratford Festival. Matt, Matthew and Galen performed in Crazy for You and Man of La Mancha while Elliott was seen in Christina the Girl King and Alice Through the Looking Glass. CCPA alumni returned to Stratford again this past summer.
- Rachael McOwen had significant screen time in the 2014 summer blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Winnipeg’s Louriza Tronco landed a starring role in the new YTV series Make It Pop
- Ali Liebert is a 2015 Canadian Screen Award Winner (“Best Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series”) for her portrayal of Betty McRae in Reelz/Global TV’s original hit series, Bomb Girls.
In addition to their classes in acting, singing, dancing and career development, CCPA utilizes events and performances as educational tools for the students to learn social responsibility as an artist in the community. This type of training has proven to be effective in preparing the students to take the leap from being a pupil to starting their professional careers. CCPA serves as a model of quality training, community building, artistic excellence and cultural diversity.
Photos by Leanne Green.