When Rainbow Stage decided to produce a version of Mary Poppins
, director Ann Hodges wanted the magical elements onstage to be as realistic as possible.
Fortunately, Winnipeg's own Dean Gunnarson is an internationally renowned magician and escapologist. He was hired on as an illusion consultant for the production and was tasked with figuring out the best way to bring the magical tale to life, on a budget.
For Gunnarson, it was a welcome challenge.
Winnipeg magician Dean Gunnarson. (Facebook)
movie came out the same year I was born so I remember watching it all my
life," he says. "I liked the chimney scene and the umbrellas flying, it's just a real magical part."
Gunnarson has done previous work with theatre and film productions but stresses that, magic tricks aside, it's up to the performers to bring the action to life.
"Presentation is key, that's
what makes the difference between a good magician and a great magician
because you can do the same trick but it's all in the presentation, how
it relates to that audience."
He was also very wary of loading too much magic into the production, and worked to create a balance with all the other elements onstage.
be really easy to make the magic overshadow the story and that's not
what anybody wanted to happen because it's not a magic show, it's a
magical story, but it's not a magic show," he explains.
"The main thing is that people
go away singing those songs, and remember the dancing and the acting and
hopefully the magic enhances, rather than overshadows it."
Gunnarson worked on scenes throughout Mary Poppins
, but hasn't seen the final result. In that way, he's looking forward to the production just like any other audience member.
"I'm waiting to see it all with my kids but from what I've seen in the
rehearsal they've all done a really good job and I think the whole
production is going to be magical."
Only difference is, he won't be leaving wondering, "How did they do that?"Mary Poppins runs August 9-29 at Rainbow Stage.