'Mary Poppins' flies into Memorial High School with pizzazz

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Daniel Fonsecka (inset, right) and Regan Hicks (left) portray Bert and Mary Poppins in Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's 'Mary Poppins' musical at Memorial High School.

With high-flying stunts, an array of beloved songs, and a colorful cast of characters and costumes, Memorial High School is ready to raise the curtain on "Mary Poppins."

Their production of the hit Disney on Broadway show opens tonight at 7:30, and runs through Feb. 4.

Students and parents toiled through the night Wednesday, putting on finishing touches before opening night.

PHOTOS: Memorial High School stages 'Mary Poppins: The Musical'
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Regan Hicks, who portrays Mary Poppins, says being cast was the dream of a lifetime.

"Millions of times," Hicks said, with a laugh. "I've been watching it since I was little."

Alongside leading man Bert, brought to life by actor Daniel Fonsecka, the pair have the weight of the whimsical classic on their shoulders.

Hicks and Fonsecka are in lock step not just in dance and song, but about the show's greatest challenge as well: defying gravity.

"I was terrified," Hicks said. "But I think that's the beauty of it as well, being able to be in high school and do amazing magic tricks on stage, and seeing the kids in our community watching it. It's amazing."

Fonsecka says flying lessons were a heart-stopping part of the road to tonight's premiere.

"It was nerve-wracking at first, because I had no clue what I signed up for," Fonsecka said. "It got easier and easier, and I learned to do more tricks, and now it's fun every time we do it."

Bringing Poppins to life is a labor of love

Co-star Meredith Rauch says she was pretty excited to play a role in a show that touched her heart-and her childhood.

"Everyone aspired to be flying, and looking cool on stage," Rauch said.

And cool they did appear when Eyewitness News dropped in for their final dress rehearsal.

Director Nicole Morgan said many hands were involved, from the father who re-created $2,000 chandeliers for just under $40, to the army of parents who performed feats to reach tonight's opening.

"I know you want to stop, but I need you to eat," Morgan calls to a theater techie, with mere hours before their premiere. "Hard to keep going when you eat lunch at 10:45."

Sawing. Nailing.
A piece of white trim here.
A concern about five boys needing hats.
The company only has a short time now before those stage lights burn bright.

For Hicks, there's hope for an audience that's receptive to their message.

"You need to have your inner child, and you need to have fun with your life while you still have it," she said.

For Morgan, like so many high school theater directors, a wish muttered as she cracks the fortune cookie over her break meal.

"Wonder if it will say, 'Your life will be fantabulous, tomorrow.'"

We'll soon find out.

For ticket information and showtimes, see MHStheatre.com

Brandon de Hoyos can be reached at brandon.dehoyos@abc.com.
Related Topics:
entertainmentmusicaldisneyhigh schooltheaterbroadwaystudentschild performerseventsHouston
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