Once upon a time–way back in the last millennia–a Light Princess was born. She was not a princess in the traditional way; her parents were not royal; she was a princess because she chose to be. And a Light Princess she was. Light of heart, light-eyed, light of step and smile, and, well, ahem, a bit light-fingered. It’s not that she made a habit of stealing from others, only from her poor mother who told her once (when she was either fevered or inebriated) that anything that was hers she would gladly give to the princess. The princess took her at her word, and from that day on, things would go missing from the realm . . .
I tell you this as a preface for my bemusement at the opening night of Mary Poppins at the Cascade. Now I have to admit, I might not have gone if my granddaughter, Olivia, were not part of the cast, but she is, and my daughter, Whitney, partners with the marvelous Marcella creating the costumes.
I went with low expectations (local production, Disney movie material, I mean, really?) And. It. Was. Fantastic. I was amazed and delighted by the talent, the choreography, the sets, and yes, even the costumes were a visual feast. It made me proud that that a community like ours could pull this together. How incredible that we have so many people with so much talent willing to give so much–because, unlike Broadway, nobody’s getting rich from theater in Redding, California.
This is not the Disney Mary Poppins; there are some significant differences. The best is a fabulously evil nanny who engages in an aria-diva-duel with Mary. Absolutely over the top! I could rhapsodize on about all the performers; they were that great. But my favorite, the one that moved me to tears, was the woman who sang “Feed the Birds (tuppence, tuppence)”.
After the play, the performers came out to mingle with the audience. After hugging my granddaughter, and congratulating the director, I spotted the Bird Lady and started over toward her. And stopped in my tracks. It started with her hat. My hat. With a nest in it which looked suspiciously like the nest that went missing from my Easter centerpiece. With the little wooden bird. My little wooden bird. And, the raggedy fabric draped about her shoulders looked a lot like a tablecloth of mine I haven’t seen in awhile. But what really galled me was that underneath it all I could glimpse the black velvet dress that granted, I had outgrown a decade ago, but saved because, after all, it was a classic. Damn. The Light Princess had struck again.
I never made it over to thank the Bird Lady for her wonderful performance because the laughing light-eyed girl, my beloved daughter, swept me (lightly) into an embrace and plied me with wine and soon had me convinced that I had made a generous and entirely voluntary contribution to the Arts in Redding. She turned my grumble into a smile. Light Princesses can do that.
So, I’m telling all my friends: go see Mary Poppins. It’s easy to find things wrong with Redding, but this is something right. You’ll not only enjoy the show, but what you get for the price of a Cascade Theatre ticket is the knowledge that you are supporting the people who are making a difference–a very positive difference–in our community. And I contributed too. Just ask the Light Princess.