When being "practically perfect" doesn't cut it, what's a magical nanny to do? If you're Mary Poppins, you call in some formidable reinforcements. And that's just what she does in "Scary Poppins," coming Friday to Gaslight Melodrama.
In the new show, Mary (Ali Dougherty) has taken up residence with the Fleabag family but finds that her usual methods are not keeping the children — Jack (Jack Prince) and Jill (Emily McGuire) — in line. So she calls in her more frightening but equally powerful cousin, Scary (Jennifer Prince).
"She feels like she has lost some of her magic," said Michael Prince, Gaslight's artistic director. "And Scary Poppins, she’s just there for her cousin whenever she needs her — to put the fear in the kids."
Prince likens the two characters to Miss Nelson and mean counterpart Viola Swamp in the children's book "Miss Nelson is Missing" (although in this case the show's two characters are not the same person).
Mary and pal Bert (Chayce Perlis) head out for a tropical vacation — singing "Let's Go Get a Drink" to the tune of "Let's Go Fly a Kite" — while Scary and her sidekick, Dirt (Shawn Rader), get the kids under control with "A Spoonful of Spinach."
But it's no "Jolly Holliday" with the arrival of Captain Louis Von Smack (Jay Stodder), who comes to collect on a debt from happy-go-lucky Father (Don Kruszka) the details of which no one else can remember.
Adding a bit of Halloween fun is the butler Chives (Michael Kubik), whom Prince said is a bit like Lurch of "The Addams Family" and has a history with the captain.
Despite the upcoming holiday season, the titular character is not as frightening as her name, Prince said.
"Scary and Dirt look scary, but they're funny and big-hearted."
Along with his wife, Prince was excited to direct his son, Jack, who is appearing in his first main-stage show.
"He’s been around this his whole life," he said. "And Emily (who plays his sister), she's been in our children's theater workshops. It made it an easier process when you know everybody involved. We try to make it as smooth and easygoing for the kids as possible."
Following "Scary Poppins" is the vaudeville revue "The Hitchhiking Dead: Too Lazy to Walk," written by Gaslight musical director Warren Dobson.
Prince said, “It’s about a bunch of silly zombies who are hitchhiking their way through a Halloween night and hilarity ensues. It has really big numbers that Warren wrote.”