Southeast Missouri State University student publication

River Campus sets new box office record with revenue from Mary Poppins

Sunday, March 11, 2018
Cast of “Mary Poppins” produced by the Conservatory of Theatre and Dance at Southeast.
Photo by Kenn Stilson

Southeast’s production of “Mary Poppins” took the box office by storm last week, becoming the best selling musical in the history of the theatre and dance department.

"I was surprised at how successful it was, but I’m not surprised it was very successful,” said director Kenn Stilson. “[Mary Poppins] is the highest grossing musical that we have ever produced in the Conservatory of Theatre and Dance. It’s even the highest grossing show that has ever come through the River Campus.”

According to Stilson and his cast members, the fact “Mary Poppins” is so widely known, and associated with Disney, had a great impact on its success.

Abigail Alsmeyer as Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins” produced by the Conservatory of Theatre and Dance at Southeast.
Photo by Kenn Stilson

Additionally, Stilson noted cultural climate as a factor.

“Part of it is that we’re surrounded by so much negativity right now,” said Stilson. “Sometimes you just need escapism, and sometimes you just need Mary Poppins.”

“Mary Poppins” sold 4,552 tickets over six shows, outselling the previous best-selling show, “Grease,” in 2012, by over 200 tickets.

Abigail Alsmeyer as Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins” produced by the Conservatory of Theatre and Dance at Southeast.
Photo by Kenn Stilson

The musical not only made an impact at the box office, but it affected the lives of those involved, and possibly future shows produced by the Conservatory.

Abigail Alsmeyer, a senior BFA Musical Theatre major, took on her first lead as Mary Poppins and called the success of the show a dream come true.

“Dreams really can come true if you work hard, and there is magic in the world,” Alsmeyer said.

Jose Alpizar, a senior BFA musical theatre major, played Bert the chimney sweep. According to Alpizar he came out to greet the audience after shows in costume and was moved by how much the children loved the musical. Alpizar said he considered the musical a success if even one child wanted to try theatre because of seeing it.

Stilson, who is also the Conservatory chair, described the program as driven by the box office while still pursuing the mission of preparing students for professional work in the field of theatre. Stilson said he hopes this show will continue building an audience for other shows produced by the Conservatory of Theatre and Dance.

“What happens when the football team starts winning is they sell more tickets,” said Stilson. “Well, this is a winning streak.”

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