Taking the stage this weekend is the first of two shows being presented at Ritter Park by HART in the Park - it's Mary Poppins: the Musical, based on the beloved Disney movie.
The Herald-Dispatch ran a great story yesterday about Lee Dean, who plays the pivotal role of Mr. Banks. You can read it right here - here's an excerpt:
Leading an ever growing church while raising two young daughters keeps Lee Dean, pastor of Mud River Baptist Church in Ona, quite busy. That's why if you would have asked him six months ago if he would be starring in HART in the Park's production of Mary Poppins The Musical, he would have, without a doubt, said no.
It was a snow storm in January that led Dean to take a step from behind the pulpit and onto the stage. His wife, Samantha, was originally supposed to take their two girls, Lena and Elli, to audition for "Mary Poppins," but the snow changed things. At the last minute, Dean had to take the girls.
"As people keep going in and out of the audition room, the door keeps opening up, and you glance in," Dean said. "I was like, 'Oh, I know that person in there, and I know that person.' Finally, the woman coming out to get everyone to audition, she goes 'Are you going to audition?' I was like, 'No my daughters are.'"She came out a few minutes later and said 'Are you sure you don't want to audition? There are some people in here that know you.' Then my darling little girls start saying 'Do it, Daddy. Do it, Daddy.'"
After some impromptu singing and reading of lines, Dean had the role of Mr. George Banks, the stern father of Jane and Michael.
Dean wasn't doing it alone, however. Along with his daughters, he also roped in his wife and sister. His nephew was already in the show. They fill multiple roles and are in the ensemble. "It made sense," Samantha Dean said. "'Mary Poppins' is about family. With him being a pastor, sometimes it's hard for us to be together as a family because he is on call. So this has given us an opportunity with our hectic schedule.
Mary Poppins the Musical opens Friday and runs through Sunday and again June 19-21 and June 26-28 at the Ritter Park amphitheater. The show starts at 8:30 p.m., with a children's pre-show of "Wonderland" starts at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 general admission, $20 for reserved, $10 for children and group rates are available by calling the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District at 304-696-5954 or by stopping off at the Park District office at Heritage Station in downtown Huntington, or by the Ritter Park Tennis Center.