Bradford's Music in Motion Performing Arts (MIMPA) studio is excited to be putting on their first on-stage production since before the pandemic: Mary Poppins.
The group of performers have been working on the show for the past year. The show was supposed to happen in May 2021 but had to be pushed back due to COVID lockdowns. The show was rescheduled to September 2021 but had to be pushed back again, after having to recruit new cast members over the mandatory vaccine policy that took effect on Sept. 22.
"We lost seven people in the show, so now we've had a bunch of newcomers take over, including Mary Poppins, in the span of five weeks," explained studio director Julia Cowie. "It's been a pretty remarkable production in terms of how it's all come together and the length that it's taken us."
Over the past few months, the cast has been rehearsing every Sunday for six hours at the studio located on Artesian Industrial Parkway in Bradford.
There are 25 performers in the show, ranging in age from seven to 50.
"It's the first time we've had adults in our production," said Cowie. "They are parents of our students and they get to connect with their kids in a very different way, to be able to experience something like this with their kids is pretty incredible."
The show was choreographed by Cowie's business partner, choreographer Lydia Martin.
Both women have been helping with directing together with Cowie working on costuming, and parents helping out with the set design.
"It's a lot of dedication," said Cowie. "I think the coolest part about it is that everyone is so committed...it's been such a huge team effort."
Cowie and Martin took over the studio from Martin's parents five years ago. The Martins had owned the business for 10 years prior to the two women taking it over and changing its name.
Before the pandemic, the studio had about 180 students between all of their classes. They experienced a drop in enrollment in 2020 and 2021, but are slowly building back up registrations as they continue to add new classes and programs for the community.
BradfordToday spoke with some of the cast members last week, who shared their excitement about performing in-person for the first time in years.
Fifteen-year-old Tiago Romeiro-Adam has been with MIMPA for nine years singing, acting and dancing, and is playing the role of Mr. Banks in the Mary Poppins production.
This isn't his first performance with the group and he is happy to finally get on stage again and make people smile.
"It's been delayed so much, I really just want to put on a show for everyone," he said. "I like putting on a show that will make people enjoy themselves, even if it's just for a little bit of time."
Seven-year-old Eleanor Patterson is the youngest student in the show's cast, playing a toy bunny and Mrs. Corrie's daughter, Fannie.
"Most of the time I have all my friends here (at the studio), and I really like singing and dancing," she said.
Cady Williston is playing the role of a doll and one of Mrs. Corrie's daughters, Annie. She says coming to rehearsal every week and focusing on the show has been a great "escape" from the stress of the pandemic.
"We all have to follow COVID rules still...I still get to have fun and see my friends," she said.
After her first show with the studio in their Aladdin production, Williston knew she wanted to make a career out of performing.
"Just putting on the show was so much fun and that's when I decided I really want to do this," she said.
The Grade 7 student hopes to one day make it to Broadway.
Luis Rodriguez has been with MIMPA for eight years. He is playing Michael Banks in the Mary Poppins show.
"Music is the only thing that relieves my stress, it brings me joy," he told BradfordToday.
Gary Wise is one of the parents performing in the show, playing the Bank Chairman.
He decided to take part in the production to show his support for the studio, which he is grateful for.
"For them, it's a good outlet...and kids are made comfortable," he said.
He noted how important it was for his daughter Edie to come back to the studio.
"This was her social reintegration, she went 18 months without any contact with the outside...she felt the pandemic but MIMPA let her be a kid again," he said.
Aly Garzon is one of the vocal teachers at the studio and is playing the lead Mary Poppins. She was thrown into the role last minute after the original actress dropped out in September.
"With COVID and all the struggles happening.... they asked me to step in so I did," she explained. "A lot of my students are in the show so it's nice to perform alongside them."
"Everyone has been so supportive, MIMPA is such a great place, and making you feel good and comfortable," she added.
Mary Poppins the musical will be playing next weekend in Newmarket at the New Roads Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are still on sale and can be purchased online here.