Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Play Hits New Heights

Reegan Cook
Senior Jordan Smaka rises above the cast of Mary Poppins. The was the first show in Grand Haven Theater Department history to include an element of theater such as flight which made for a very visually appealing play.

Theater took a gravity-defying twist in the recent Mary Poppins production. The cast set a goal to take the theater experience to new heights and ran with it…

Or rather flew.

Senior Jordan Smaka (Bert) and junior Evangeline Henderson (Mary Poppins) played roles that required them to be strapped into harnesses that allowed them to soar over 20 feet above the stage in multiple scenes during the performance. This was a first for a GHHS production and created some anxiety, even as it led to some of the show’s most memorable scenes. 

“Sure, there’s a bit of apprehension with anything you don’t know,” director Rita McLary said. “So I think because it was new to me and new to all of us, you know, when people fly, there was some nerves.” 

Fortunately, Smaka and Henderson didn’t let those nerves stop them from putting on the show.

“At first I hated it, but it’s definitely grown on me,” Smaka said. “I trust the fly team enough to let myself purely enjoy and act through the moments I’m in the air for.”

Along with zipping through the air, the actors had to sing, dance and recite lines as is done in a typical show. Yet they managed to learn all these things, as well as the protocols for flight in a matter of months. 

“When we first started the rehearsals for it I was like, Okay, it’s going kind of slow, or we kind of missed that,” McLary said. “It’s all in how much repetition you have the chance to do. The actors have been working on it since the end of August and then we come in with the flying a week before. And they’ve just got to learn it.”

And that they did. 

“There were two people on two separate ropes,” said theater tech Daniel McNulty, one of the stagehands responsible for keeping the actors in the air. “Both people were lifting a quarter of the person’s weight. If one person let go there was a knot at the bottom. So if I let go, the other person would have had to start pulling as fast as possible in hopes to, you know, not have the person on the floor, and vice versa.” 

Junior Evangeline Henderson floats above other cast members. Being almost 20 feet in the air meant that Henderson’s head and umbrella often hit the lights above. (Reegan Cook)

Being suspended in the air required many hands, tools and time to achieve. Leading actors had up to five rehearsals a week, learning their lines and dances outside of the scheduled rehearsals as well as continuing their lives outside of acting. 

“Eventually we just started adding flying into regular rehearsals so we would still just run through the scenes like normal just adding the flying and correcting anything if need be,” Henderson said.

The process was lengthy, but for good reason. Once the flight team looked over the equipment to ensure it was secure, they would attach to the flight system and hover in the air for another check to confirm everything worked as it should.

“I just had to move my arms and legs and make sure everything felt secure, but Jordan had to do an entire flip because his harness was different from mine,” Henderson said.  

The effort paid off. The added aspect of the show elevated the audience’s experience almost as much as the harnesses did the actors. 


“It just added a wow-like factor to it that I haven’t experienced with the other plays,” junior Caitlyn Tlachac said after attending the show. 

The overall consensus of the play suggests that flying enhanced the production so that it reached new heights. 

“It just impressed me so much, the effect that it had on the audience, and just how much fun it was to get that element in our show,” McLary said.

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About the Contributors
Katie Snyder, Editor
Reegan Cook, Reporter

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