Tuesday, January 20, 2015

If you reach for the heavens, you'll get the stars thrown in

My larger-than-life middle son just finished his mainstage debut as Michael Banks in Mary Poppins at Northwest Children's Theater (NWCT)--an amazing show! (Yes, I'm slightly biased!)

When did I know that he would be an actor? Probably at age three, when he declared he was having a Wizard of Oz party for his fourth birthday and he would be the Wicked Witch. We re-enacted the movie in condensed version! The sixth one was the "Sound of Music."

The Wicked Witch at age 4, with friends
He's been seeing theater since he was little...raised on the Ladybug Theater, NWCT, and Chris' various school plays. As soon as he was old enough, we got him into after-school theater programs. 

Kieran with John Ellingson at NWCT, who played "Winnie the Pooh"
(Tigger wasn't in the play, but as soon as John saw Kieran,
 he shouted, "Tigger! I've been wondering where you've been!"
But it wasn't until 2010 that his career aspirations were cemented. That year, he participated in two summer drama camps and discovered his deep love for the stage. 
Summer 2010, after appearing as the villain Haman
 in a play about the biblical story of Esther
Photo used in the Oregonian for the Hullabaloo
Then that fall he was cast as the only lead actor in Jane Theater Company's production of "Frankenstein: the Little Monster," a British-style pantomime. At age 8, he performed 25 performances over 5 weeks, not missing a one. We drove across the river to SE Belmont five days a week for one month, and three days a week for the performances. It was a great experience for him, but challenging in many ways because he was the only child in the play. 

With his mom in the play
And his real mom!
For years, it's been Kieran's dream to get on the mainstage at NWCT. He began auditioning a few years ago, and for four seasons he's been in their touring company, Kids Company Northwest.
At NWCT, dreaming of the mainstage
(Photo by our friend Bayard, who took Kieran and his daughter to an NWCT play)
In the meantime, he has been a regular at most of the NWCT shows.
Another photo with John Ellingson (Captain Hook) at NWCT
(Of course, Kieran had to dress up as Captain Hook to see the play!)
As soon as he heard NWCT would be doing Mary Poppins in 2014-2015, he set his eyes on the role of Michael Banks. Much of the Broadway musical is online on Youtube, and he memorized everything he could find. So we were all excited when he landed the role: finally, the mainstage, and with a lead role!

What a thrill it was to see him onstage! He had the time of his life. Every day Kieran was not at the theater, he was at a loss. Kieran's Jane is now his best friend, and he also formed bonds with many other actors (including the amazing Chrissy Kelly-Pettit, who played Mary Poppins). 

We've seen a lot of theater in Portland--both children's and adult--and this show was phenomenal. The singing, dancing, and acting were fantastic; costumes gorgeous; and production elements amazing. I cried during every show. Such a stage mom! (In fact, I'm not really--later on I found out that most of the parents saw the show so many more times than I did!) It was NWCT's most successful production to date--they sold out every show, and when they added an additional show, it sold out almost immediately. In total, 20,000 people saw the show!

We were also really impressed with the organization itself--rarely were they let out of rehearsals late (this is a pet peeve of mine as a theater mom!) and communication was great. I also appreciated the way they protected the child actors. Every adult actor has a background check, and they have separate dressing rooms. The kids were not allowed to leave the theater between shows. 

The roles of Jane and Michael were double cast, which alleviated the commitment over the holidays a bit. (Kieran would have preferred to be in every performance, though, because he loved it so much!) 

Kieran's known of NWCT's artistic director Sarah Jane Hardy for years...in fact, many years ago he wrote her a letter asking her to produce "Into the Woods"! So it was a thrill for him to be able to work with her at last! And working with the phenomenal John Ellingson (Bert) was also exciting. 

He was SO SAD when the show was over, and he's anxious to get back on the mainstage again next season--fingers crossed!

Here are some photos purchased from David Kinder, NWCT's photographer.

Spoonful of Sugar 
Anything Can Happen

Describing the perfect nanny

My favorite photo!

Spoonful of Sugar

Visiting Mr. Banks at the bank

Let's Go Fly a Kite (my favorite song when I was young)

Michael and Jane with their stage mom
 (such a talented singer!!)

Practically Perfect

Step in Time, the amazing dance number!

Backstage tour

At the beginning of Step in Time

The entire cast of Mary Poppins
When the show was over, the entire cast had a (sparkling cider) toast together, and the Janes and Michaels took this great photo:

Thanks to all of you who came to see Kieran in "Mary Poppins" (more photos on Facebook)! He had a great fan base, and we are so grateful for your support!

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