‘Mary Poppins’ hosting this weekend’s Cookies with Characters

Published 2:52 am Saturday, February 23, 2019

Andalusia High School senior Alyssa Jones has volunteered with Meredith’s Miracles for the past five years. This weekend –  after years of trying to convince director Kylie Spears to include her favorite character –  she will take the stage as emcee at Cookies with Characters as Mary Poppins.

“Now that the new Mary Poppins movie has come out, she is actually allowing me to be Mary Poppins,” Jones said. “I had to go through the tryout process and everything, but she liked it on me so I get to be Mary Poppins.”

There are three shows this year. Click here for  times

“Mary Poppins Returns,” which stars Emily Blunt and Broadway star Lin Manuel Miranda, was released Dec. 19, 2018, and is the sequel to the original Mary Poppins movie, which featured Julia Andrews as Mary, in 1964.

Although she did see the new Mary Poppins, Jones said that she is portraying her character as the original nanny.

“I actually went and saw the new movie with Mrs. Kiley,” Jones said. “But I am basing my character off of the old one because I prefer that one.”

To get into character, Jones has been spending weeks speaking with a British accent.

“I will be speaking in a British accent the entire day,” Jones said. “Just for fun I have been talking in it all the time, just to make sure I have it down pat. The guy that is playing Burt and I are actually performing the ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ song, so I have been perfecting that as well. Also, Kiley and I wrote the script that we are going to use for Cookies with Characters so I have been reading over it every chance I get.”

Jones started volunteering with Meredith’s Miracles five years ago simply for her love of children, but her interest has evolved into a love for the foundation.

“I originally got into it because it looked like something that could be really fun and I loved children,” Jones said. “But when I started doing it year after year and met Mrs. Kiley, I really fell in love with the foundation. Now, I have done over 200 hours of community service just with Meredith’s Miracles alone.”

When Jones puts on the white dress, lace hat and gloves and twirls her lace umbrella, she said that she feels amazing.

“It is just so fun,” Jones said. “I mean you put on the beautiful dress, pop on the hat, carry the umbrella and put on the accent and you just feel like you are becoming someone else.”

Jones hopes that parents have taken their kids to see the new Mary Poppins movie so they will know who she is.

“There are a certain few people that absolutely love her, because they are all my age and grew up with it,” Jones said. “Most of the younger kids probably don’t know who she is, so I’m hoping parents took their kids over the Christmas break to see the new movie.”

Jones’ schedule has been jam packed with extracurricular activities, but she said that being busy doesn’t faze her.

“Honestly having all of these things on my plate is no big deal for me,” Jones said. “I keep myself busy 24/7, so I’m used to being go, go, go everywhere. With this, I just try to get rehearsing in as much as possible. Even when I am doing other things, like schoolwork or tennis, whenever I get a break from that I always pull out my laptop and read over the script.”

Jones is involved with several clubs at the high school, president of the Anchor Club, is on the tennis team and a member of the AHS Sound Tradition concert and marching band.

She plans to attend Jacksonville State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, after graduating from AHS, and has an audition this spring for JSU’s marching band.

After graduating from JSU, Jones plans to attend medical school at the University of South Alabama to become a plastic surgeon.

For anyone still on the fence about taking their child to Cookies with Characters, Jones said that she wishes she were still a child so that she could attend  – that’s how good the show is.

“For children, meeting these characters is a dream come true,” Jones said. “It’s the people that they look at all day, want to dress up as, they want to be these people and long to meet them. They get to see the show that we put on and there is dancing and music and kids can eat all the cookies they want to. It is just a great time and every kid should be able to experience it. I actually didn’t get to experience it at a young age, so I tell everyone I see to come and have fun.”

Jones is the daughter of Shandi and Jason Jones.

Cookies with Characters will be presented in three shows this weekend at the Kiwanis Community Center. Admission is $5 per person. Specialty items also will be sold, and carriage rides will be available for $5.

Showtimes are:

• Saturday Show 1 – Doors open at 11 a.m. and the show starts at noon. Doors close at 2:30 p.m.

• Saturday Show 2 – Doors open at 4 p.m. and the show starts at 5 p.m. Doors close at 7:30 p.m.

• Sunday Show – Doors open at 2 p.m. and the show starts at 3 p.m. Doors close at 5:30 p.m.