Jason Mayo had never been in a play before being cast as a sassy bellhop in Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s 2016 community show, Lend Me a Tenor. Three Lighthouse productions later, the Jarvis resident says the stage feels like a second home.
“I love working at the theatre,” said Mayo, a high school drama teacher and past MasterChef Canada finalist.
“It gives me the opportunity to let everything out, sing and dance, and hang out with people who are like-minded — theatre folk,” he added. “I love those personalities and all that talent. We’re like a family — an oddly dysfunctional, hilarious family, but very much a group that works well together and performs beautifully together.”
Mayo stars in Lighthouse’s upcoming production of Mary Poppins as the larger than life Mrs. Corry, who runs the “talking shop” where Mary creates the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
“Mary Poppins has always been my favourite film, since I was a child. It’s part of the reason that I teach, because I always wanted to be like Mary Poppins,” Mayo said.
“I wanted to help children, and be fun but firm and fair, but still magical and interesting and odd — emphasis on odd,” he said with a laugh. “So to have the opportunity to be in this show and have such an over-the-top part has been incredible. It’s a dream come true.”
Mary Poppins, featuring 23 performers from Norfolk and Haldimand, sold out its 11-show springtime run at Lighthouse, setting the stage for a five-show remount at the Port Dover theatre from Nov. 22 to 25.
“The show tells a different story — it’s not all about the children,” Mayo said, explaining that the Disney film focuses on the magical nanny’s adventures with the Banks children, while the stage musical delves into the darker reason Mr. Banks starts the show emotionally distant from his family.
As for what makes Lighthouse’s production special, Mayo said the fact that it’s coming back by popular demand is a clue.
“The talent speaks for itself, really,” he said. “The singing is wonderful, the dancing is excellent, the set is beautiful. And it’s that nostalgia. Parents are going to be happy to see those old memories, and kids are going to make some new ones.”
Mayo loves being recognized on the street by adoring fans and enjoys running into cast mates of all ages and from different walks of life who have become friends.
“We all have hidden talents, and it’s really nice to be able to show those talents and have people appreciate them,” he said.
Mayo encourages Haldimand residents to make the drive down Highway 6 to take in Mary Poppins, and consider auditioning for future Lighthouse community shows, such as The Wizard of Oz, slated for 2019.
“Even though the theatre itself is in Norfolk, it’s so close to Haldimand that it would be ridiculous to not come,” he said. “You have this beautiful opportunity in your backyard. There’s lots of talent. Come out and see it.”
This article was originally published in The Sachem and at sachem.ca.