by Dennis Dalman
Little did Sloan Schwarzentraub realize when she watched the movie “Mary Poppins” umpteen times as a girl that she would one day be choreographing a stage version of that musical.
Schwarzentraub, 22, a dance teacher at St. Cloud School of Dance, is the choreographer of the Cold Spring Great Northern Theater’s production of “Mary Poppins.” The show opened at Cold Spring’s ROCORI High School’s Glenville Smith Auditorium July 29 and will be performed again at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 5 and 6 with a 2 p.m. show set for Sunday, Aug. 7.
For tickets, visit the Great Northern Theater website (gntc1.com).
Schwarzentraub’s parents, Chip and Stephanie, moved to Sartell when Sloan entered Sartell High School as a sophomore. She and her younger sister, Reese, excelled in dancing and became members of the perennially award-winning Sartell Sabres Dance Team.
Schwarzentraub also has a brother Holden, who enjoys playing lacrosse.
During the girls’ time with the dance team, it won the state championship for the high-kicks category and third place for jazz performances twice. In 2017, Sloan was named by the St. Cloud Times “All Area Dancer of the Year.”
Produced by Walt Disney Studios, the movie “Mary Poppins’ opened in 1964 and became a huge hit. The movie starred Julie Andrews in the Oscar-winning lead role and Dick Van Dyke as her friend, Bert Dawes the chimney sweep. It was based on a series of widely popular novels by British writer P.L. Travers.
In the movie, the Banks family of London hires a nanny with uncanny powers who can fly with the aid of her umbrella. She supervises the boy and girl siblings of the Banks’ parents, who are rather uptight and distant from their children. Poppins, along with the girl and boy have whimsical, magical adventures throughout the city, sometimes joined by cartoon characters.
The movie – and the Cold Spring stage production, directed by Kelli Killmer – is bursting with famous musical numbers that include “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cheree,” “Feed the Birds,” “Step in Time,” “Jolly Holiday” and ‘Super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious.”
The play in Cold Spring boasts a cast of more than 50, with the lead roles performed by students Abby Schnobrich (Poppins) and Kade Waalen (Dawes).
There are three major song-and-dance numbers in the show that involved just about every member of the cast all at once: “Jolly Holiday,” “Step in Time” and “Super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious.” Those showstopping production numbers were particularly challenging to choreograph, Scwarzentraub noted.
After working out the steps for six songs at home in her room, she did group work with the performers, including lots of one-on-one practice.
Seeing the movie version and several stage productions of “Mary Poppins” helped Schwarzentraub to acquire a range of options in creating her own choreographic choices for the musical numbers.
After graduating from Sartell High School in 2017, Schwarzentraub studied at Mankato State University where she majored in private-studio dance teaching. She graduated with her dance degree in 2021.
Schwarzentraub praised her Sartell High School Sabres’ main dance coach, Kelly McCarney, for her expert teaching and her inspiration, which led Schwarzentraub to make dance-teaching her own career.