By Jodi Bryant
Perfecting the art of flying across the stage and saying supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards have been some of the challenges of playing Mary Poppins in the Auckland musical but for Whangarei's Shaan Kloet, it's a dream come true.
Although Shaan was well-familiar with the role – she played Mary Poppins with Hamilton Operatic in 2017 – she says working with an entire new cast and creative team, this time through Amici Trust, means has meant the experience is quite different.
"Although I am playing the same role, everyone brings something different to their characters which then does have an effect on how I play the role. Also, there is brand new choreography so the dances are different, because we are using different people, their skills set is different. It's really cool to see and be a part of," says the classically trained soprano.
She says, two years on, the words to the songs came back naturally but relearning how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and then saying it backwards wasn't quite so easy.
The multi-award winning musical is adapted from the original film and has delighted audiences around the world since its world premiere in 2004 with its catchy tunes including the mischievous A Spoon Full of Sugar and the riotous Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
The story is set around the turn of the century London with the dysfunctional Banks family, where patriarch George, a wealthy financier and wife Winifred, are at their wit's end and in high need of an au pair.
But Jane and Michael are boisterous brats and have done their best to terrorise a list of nannies into abandoning ship.
A miracle arrives in Mary Poppins, the mysterious and magical nanny, who appears on the doorstep of the troubled Banks family just when her services are most required. Poppins returns decorum to the household and promptly decamps, by flying off. This allows George's own former nanny, Miss Andrew, to return and set about controlling the children with Victorian thoroughness. But Miss Andrew's techniques backfire and Poppins returns and takes charge of the Banks children with unwavering confidence.
"Like the film and without giving away how it happens, expect flying, magic and mystery on stage," says Shaan.
Formerly Shaan Antunovich, she grew up in Northland where her family still reside and own the business she works for. Although currently living in Auckland, she travels to Whangarei at least once a fortnight and has plans to relocate with her husband.
Since graduating from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art with a Bachelor of Performing Arts, the 30-year-old's career highlights include singing with Rob Guest, a soloist at Christmas in the Park at both Christchurch and Auckland, Opera in the Garden, playing Grizabella in Cats, Elphaba – the green witch in Wicked and touring with Pirates of Penzance. She has also made tv appearances on Stars in Their Eyes and NZ X Factor and most recently appeared on Three's The Café interviewed by Mike Puru promoting Mary Poppins.
"The promotional side has been awesome," she says. "Being on The Café was cool but I think the coolest thing has been the photos taken by LK Creative in Devonport. The whole team behind the photo shoot was awesome."
The cast has been rehearsing since early January and Shaan says everything is tracking wonderfully for the April 1 opening.
"The show is in a great place, the cast and team are so talented and the technical side of the show is huge but everyone is aware of what needs to happen and it is always amazing to see how it all just falls into place once we get in the theatre.
"The experience has been great – I have met some awesome people and also I am working with some people who I have known a really long time which is always epic. I am really excited - it has been a goal of mine to play a lead in Auckland, and I love the show so to be able to do it twice and twice as Mary Poppins is pretty cool."