GREENFIELD — While many enjoyed sunshine and free time in tropical locations for spring break, the dedicated thespians of the Greenfield-Central High School theater department spent their time in rehearsal for their May production of “Mary Poppins.”

With about six weeks to put the show together, every minute counts, so set work and rehearsals were ongoing from 9 a.m. to noon the first week of break.

Ted Jacobs, in his 14th year as theater director, is captain of this theatrical ship and oversees all aspects of the production. He has done more than 80 shows at Greenfield-Central. In his first year, the department presented three shows, but since then, that number has grown to five or six per year.

Jacobs serves as a guide through all parts of the production but is proud of the fact that his shows are student-run. Under Jacobs’ tutelage, the students design and run the lights and sound, build the sets, and of course, act in the productions.

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He credits strong feeder programs, including KidsPlay and Hancock County Children’s Theater, for sending him students who come prepared with a work ethic and a level of expectation that make it easy to continue the student-driven traditions at Greenfield-Central.

The auditorium, under Jacobs’ watchful eye, is a beehive of activity. On stage, Wilkinson Dance Studio instructors Katie Lawrence and Sam McCoy teach choreography for the musical number, “Step in Time” to more than 50 high school dancers and actors.

Backstage, Meghan Batka assembles a bookshelf for the set. In the booth, sophomores Quentin Black and Dylan Hays make adjustments to the lighting. Sound technician Nick Brock sets microphone levels as he walks down the aisle towards the stage.

Despite the hard work, Jacobs enjoys taking on large-scale projects like Disney’s “Mary Poppins.”

“They’re popular, they’re fun, and they draw large audiences,” Jacobs said.

The stage production of “Mary Poppins” is significantly different from the movie, Jacobs said. Some songs have been added, others left out.

But Poppins’ signature moves will remain in tact. Jacobs is collaborating with FlyingFX, an Illinois-based special effect company, to bring in the rigging to “fly” Mary Poppins (played by Katelyn Robinson) and Bert (played by Gage Williamson) during the performances.

The troupe is looking forward to packed houses; there are already more than 300 ticket reservations. “Mary Poppins” runs May 1, 2 and 3 at Greenfield-Central High School. Tickets are on sale now at 317-462-9211, ext. 34121.

Christine Schaefer is arts editor and editorial assistant at the Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3222 or