By SHERIDAN ROY
No Boundaries Youth Theater, formerly “New Britain Youth Theater,” journeyed to Plainville for their upcoming production, Disney’s “Mary Poppins Jr.” The theater program itself attracts young performers from over 60 cities and towns around the state, and provides equal opportunities for all abilities.
The team of about 40 teens and children will perform on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 28 at 2 p.m. at Plainville High School. They began practicing there on July 1 and have just four weeks to master the performance, including music and choreography, and helping to make some of the props and costumes that will be used in the show.
“Each summer, we do one big musical that we put together in just four weeks,” said executive director Darren Farrington. “We try to choose something that is fun for everyone.”
“Mary Poppins” was one of the most popular Disney films of all time, and it played for over 2,500 performances on Broadway.
The “junior” version of the play is a shortened, slightly simpler version of the full-blown Broadway musical, and Farrington said that is suitable for the performers as well as their families and friends in the audience.
This is the program’s first summer at PHS.
“We’ve always drawn many kids from Plainville,” said Farrington. NBYT typically practices and performs in New Britain schools or at Hole in the Wall theater, but branched out to Plainville this year due to renovations. “We had reached out to the superintendent about having the production perform at PHS this year, and they have been very welcoming and great to work with. It’s a good central location as well for our kids who travel from around the state.”
Founded in 2010, NBYT was selected by Connecticut Magazine as “Connecticut’s best children’s theater” in 2017. Last year, the group changed its name to “No Boundaries Youth Theater” to reflect its widespread acceptance of children from all towns, with all abilities, to be involved in a variety of ways both onstage and off.
“The name change was a recognition that we are open to children and teens anywhere, of all abilities. We are accepting and inclusive,” said Farrington. “We are not solely a special needs theater, but we welcome anyone who comes our way.”
Farrington said theater is a vehicle for everyone to be included. At one point, NBYT introduced some programs and classes specifically for children and teens with special needs, but learned from the children and from parents that they would rather be integrated in with everyone else.
“It’s such a good experience for everyone to work together as a team,” he said. “In addition to rehearsing and preparing, all cast and crew members learn that theater builds social, emotional and academic skills.”
NBYT works hard to keep costs as low as possible for participation and even offer some financial assistance to families who cannot afford a full price.
“We never turn anyone away,” said Farrington. “We strive to be accessible in any way possible while keeping the program high-quality.”
Tickets for the NBYT’s “Mary Poppins, Jr.” performance are $13 for adults and $11 for children, students and seniors.
Tickets may be reserved by calling NBYT at (860) 515-8115 or may be purchased online at nbyt.org. Tickets will also be available to purchase at the door.
PHS is located at 47 Robert Holcomb Way.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.