Mary Poppins, the family favorite high-flying nanny, was the top draw for the 2016 season at The Theatre in The Park.
The show produced on the Theatre’s stage for the first time, drew 9,340 theatergoers and helped push the 2016 season’s overall attendance to 27,044.
That was nearly 2,000 more than 2015’s total attendance and topped “Shrek,” last year’s leader with 7,284.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” rated G, was the runner-up with 7,599 followed by “A Chorus Line” 4,228, and “Cabaret,” 3,250, both rated PG-16. “The Drowsy Chaperone,” rated G, also played at Theatre in The Park for the first time and drew 2,627.
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“Mary Poppins” was co-produced by The Theatre in the Park and the Jewish Community Center,. Both theaters shared the same cast, costumes and sets and kept their own gate receipts. Tim Bair, producing artistic director at The Theatre in the Park, directed the show in both theaters. “Mary Poppins” drew 3,600 in eight shows in JCC’s White Theatre, which seats 500.
This was the third time the two theaters have collaborated on a show. The first was “Hairspray” in 2013 and “Shrek” last year.
Jennifer Renfrow, owner of a studio for actors in Warrensburg, Mo., portrayed Mary Poppins. “I’ve dreamed about playing her since I saw the show on Broadway,” she said. “My son Ben, 11, and I decided to audition hoping we could get a role.” They did. Ben played Michael Banks.
Bair said he wasn’t surprised “Mary Poppins” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” were the season’s top draws.
“They’re shows kids really go for which, of course, brings parents and grandparents along,” Bair said. “Joseph had a large cast of 62 children. We like having kids involved.”
Overall, Bair said he was pleased with the season — except for three rainouts.
“We had a good selection of shows, something for everyone,” Bair said. “Two shows, “Mary Poppins” and “The Drowsy Chaperone,” were on our stage for the first time. “Cabaret” and “A Chorus Line,” both long running Broadway shows, and Joseph hadn’t been in our theater for a long time.”
Bair said he thought “The Drowsy Chaperone” would draw better than it did. “It was a musical comedy and an entertaining show but it wasn’t well known,” Bair said. “Cabaret” and “A Chorus Line” were Rated PG-16 and not appropriate for kids but they were popular, well-known shows. A lot of people told me they were glad we had them.”
The Theatre in the Park and JCC will co-produce the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast,” in the 2017 season. It’s the only show scheduled so far for The Theatre in the Park next year.
It will play eight shows in White Theatre, July 8-23, then move to The Theatre in the Park a week later to close the season.
“The Jewish Community Center is proud to co-produce with The Theatre in the Park. This unique and exciting partnership allows us to deliver productions of the highest quality and connects our two organizations in a meaningful way,” said Melissa Blair Anderson, cultural arts cordinator.
“Anytime you can share expenses it’s good for everyone,” Bair said.