For the new Music Circus production of "
"This show is making me so creative," Casale said during a recent rehearsal break. "My head is aching trying to figure new things out that I haven't dealt with before."
The director had been working with on a scene that includes the mysterious powers
"I've always got to figure out how the whole 2,200 people can see that moment," Casale said. "What it is and what changes in it."
Casale takes great care with details big and small, knowing the clearer the story points are, the stronger the emotional impact will be on audiences. He also knows extra eyes will be on "Poppins" because it's a Disney property. He's cultivated a strong working relationship with the entertainment conglomerate, directing shows such as "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid" for the company across
"I got ... an email from (Disney) saying 'We hope we're going to see the "Mary Poppins" we know and love when we come to your theater,' " Casale said. "That was their little way of saying 'We trust you, but we don't want you screwing around with it too much.' "
Casale does have some leeway, though, when tweaking theatrical properties for specific spaces and audiences. He oversaw creative improvements for "The Little Mermaid," which had the shortest
"They were happy with those changes and that's how it's being done now," Casale said.
Casale came to "Mary Poppins" with an abiding admiration for the property, adapted from
" 'Mary Poppins' has always interested me because I love the music, I love the movie and when I saw it on
Casale added that he thinks the recent film "Saving Mr. Banks" with
When he began looking at staging the musical, Casale didn't necessarily think he could make it better. "I thought it was fine," he said, but came to believe that shorter could be stronger.
"For me, the first act is a little long, almost an hour and half for a kids show," Casale said.
He also thought the song-and-production-number "Playing the Game" didn't work.
"(In that sequence), you had
Disney allowed Casale to cut "Playing the Game," and he's happy with the tighter version of the play. "It gets us to the end of the first act cleaner," he said.
Casale also wanted a warmer
"What I was looking for was somebody who has a sense of magic in their being," Casale said."There's spirituality. There's a sense of something that's out of this world."
Eventually Casale found that in
"Kelly has these lovely eyes, and she has a sense about her that even when she's strong, even when she's demanding with the kids, there's this warmth that comes through," Casale said. "She is there to help this family."
The family is bolstered by young local actors
"These kids are better than any kids I could have found around the country," Casale said. "They're so professional. They've been here eight hours a day, doing every job every actor does, and these are local kids and I forget that."
The two have been rehearsing their parts since March and have had a dialogue coach helping their English accents. They've worked at Music Circus before with Casale in the chorus of "The Music Man," but now they are featured actors.
"They've got to hold this show together and I can't say enough about how prepared they are," he said.
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