Spoonful of Sugar

Mary Poppins @ HDCH

Here at HDCH we strive to cultivate character through learning for a life of service to God.

This character building happens in the classroom daily, but it is also shaped in beautiful ways through extracurricular opportunities like drama. One way that we draw attention to character development is through the Habits of a Graduate – competence, compassion, resilience, creativity, and reflection.

Throughout the year, I have watched these habits grow in the members of our cast and crew in amazing ways. It has reminded me how important experiences like drama can be in the development of character.

To put it in context, what follows are some highlights of how students have been shaped by this fantastic undertaking:

To execute a musical, everyone involved must achieve a high level of quality in their craft. For this show, competence was achieved in vocal music, dance, characterization, instrumental music, and design. The leaders that arose to coach their peers in dance and music demonstrated not only competence in their field, but also motivation to work collaboratively and promote the success of others. It is such a joy to see people discover and develop a gift that can then bless the community around them.

“Some of my favourite memories were before each show when we did the hucka and all let out our nervous energy, as well as backstage. During each show behind the scenes, we were all dancing and smiling before each scene, and after each one, we would congratulate those who had just gone on. Another favourite memory was when we were learning one of the chimney sweep steps and kept dropping the brooms as they were chucked at us.” ~ Amber

This spring, our cast was drawn together in more ways than usual. Through moments of sorrow and loss, we found strength in our love for one another and our desire to support each other with grace and care. With small tokens of kindness, willingness to step in to cover roles, and lots of prayers, the cast came together like family to walk alongside our friends through grief and darkness. The effect was a beautiful look at how compassion can build community.

My favourite memory from the play is probably feeling like I was actually doing something to help someone. My favourite part in the play was the awe that I felt every time Hannah hit that high note in brimstone and treacle.” ~ Lexi

Putting on a musical is an exercise in resilience. It is about persevering when the curtains won’t open, the fog machine malfunctions, props disappear, the hat stand gets stuck in the carpetbag (again!), costumes rip, lines are forgotten, entrances are missed, notes are sung off-key. Things go wrong (all the time), but character is built when solutions are found, rescuers swoop in, and improvisation saves the day. Problem-solving, through critical moments, builds skills that translate into all areas of life. I witnessed this happen over and over both on stage and behind the scenes. Resilience takes courage, but it leads to confidence.

As image-bearers of God, everyone has an innate desire to play, explore, create, and discover. There are endless opportunities to flex the creative muscle in drama, and nowhere is this truer than looking at the exceptional work of the crews. The costumes in Mary Poppins were dynamic and filled with whimsy, the props were quirky and magical, and the set was chock-full of surprise and delight.

How better to see how students reflect on their experience than to hear from the students themselves! Here are some thoughts from those involved in Mary Poppins and how it impacted them:

“Being a part of Mary Poppins has been a highlight of my time at HDCH. The cast was so much more than just a cast to me, we became a family that laughed and cried together. I will forever be grateful to all the staff who made this possible. Through them I learned more than acting, I learned confidence and what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself.” ~ Kiersten

A place to belong

Involvement in a school musical certainly leads to growth in character development; however, being a part of a musical is also just plain fun! We laugh, we develop inside jokes, we poke fun at each other, and we enjoy each other’s company. By the end of the show’s run, we have a treasure-trove of memories to take with us and a sense of accomplishment in a job well done.

Being part of Mary Poppins was incredible. It was a dream come true just to be part of the production, and you could feel that energy in our practices and shows. The performance week came, and it was so much harder than I imagined, but so worth it, and we weren’t just the cast and crew by the last show, we became a family. We ate together, celebrated together and we were there for each other no matter what. I’ll never forget this experience (and I’ll likely never get the songs out of my head)!” ~ Abby

On a personal note, I will forever be grateful for the privilege to witness such love and care between a group of students from diverse backgrounds, grade levels, and social groups. An extracurricular club like drama becomes not just a place to have fun but a place to belong.

Thanks for the laughs, the hugs, the tears, and the memories.

By Sara Whetstone, Drama Director
Hamilton District Christian High