In tune and in step with the ultimate nanny

There's no shushing in the theater when viewers take part in an interactive showing of Mary Poppins.

Published July 28, 2006

The boys sported smudges on their faces, and the girls wore straw hats and shawls. They fidgeted in their seats at the Tampa Theatre in anticipation of bringing a classic film to life.

About 140 people, some of them in costume, came out to the theater's first showing of the Mary Poppins Sing-Along on July 20.

The theater is showing the film through Sunday as part of its summer classic movie series.

Tara Schroeder, the theater's community relations manager, dressed as Mary Poppins and welcomed the crowd. About 1,960 people attended the first five shows, she said.

Boys and girls dressed as chimney sweepers and Jane Banks paraded across the stage in the historic theater as the Mighty Wurlitzer organ blared prior to the movie.

Then the Wurlitzer descended into the ground, the curtains swung open and the film began.

The opening credits sent a wave of nostalgia across the room. When Mary Poppins glided in from the sky, parrot umbrella in the air, the audience greeted her with a round of applause.

Then they sang, almost every song. Audience members received a bag of props at the door containing whistles and noisemakers, which they sounded every time Admiral Boom appeared on screen.

After Mary Poppins won the horse race inside her friend Bert's sidewalk chalk drawing, everyone sang without hesitation Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Eight year old Caleb Rafuse from Dade City marched up and down the steps while Mary Poppins' young charges, Michael and Jane Banks, marched across the rooftops.

When the chimney sweepers started dancing to Step in Time, Caleb did a little jig while the rest of the audience stomped and clapped.

He said he's seen the movie at least 200 times.

"There's not a week that goes by that he doesn't watch this movie," said his mother, Wanda Rafuse.

At the end of the movie, the crowd joined the Banks family in singing, Let's Go Fly A Kite, waving their miniature green kites to the tune.

Some people said they were glad to have the lyrics of their favorite songs spelled out on the screen.

"I thought it was very helpful," said Jarrod Dyer, 10, who came dressed as a chimney sweeper.

His mother, Claudia Dyer, came dressed as Mary Poppins and his sister, Bianca, 8, came as Jane.

At some points during the movie, the adults were more excited than the kids, singing louder to the songs they remember from childhood.

They laughed when Mary Poppins told the kids her medicine flavor was rum punch.

The hit movie, released in 1964, reminds people of a few universal joys: laughter and family. It is a favorite across generations.

Beth McCoy came from Land O'Lakes to watch the sing-along with her daughter, Katy Franke, and three grandchildren: McKenna, 9, Silas, 6, and Hayden, 4.

"This was the first movie I ever took her to as a little girl," she said about her daughter.

Jonnelle Marte can be reached at (813) 310-1145 or jmarte@sptimes.com.


The Mary Poppins Sing-Along continues at 7:30 tonight, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, students and military personnel. Call 813 274-8982.