Windmore Foundation for the Arts is teaching the community how to spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious this summer.
Windmore’s summer theatre camp, held at Verdun Adventure Bound, will present “Mary Poppins Jr.” Saturday, June 16 at 1 and 5 p.m.
A fairly new musical, this will be the first time “Mary Poppins Jr.” has been presented in Culpeper, though some of the cast is familiar with it from Warrenton Middle School’s production earlier this year.
Director Mary Kidd Flemming said that was one of the reasons they chose the classic.
“We also thought the setting out here was really great for lots of magic to happen,” she said.
The production is a culmination of Windmore’s two-and-a-half weeklong theatre camp hosted at Verdun. More than 30 cast members participated in the camp and are bringing the Disney classic to life.
“We try to make it a camp experience for them,” Flemming said. “It’s very different from the experience they would have in the school systems during the year while they are doing productions.”
She pointed out there are no lights and no rigging at the Verdun amphitheater, which means they have to be more creative with their scene changes. Her husband, John, created a pulley system to fly out kites and stars for the production.
“A lot of this set remains on stage, and we just pretend around it,” Flemming said.
The cast is led by Ryleigh Flemming as Mary Poppins, Mikey Marshall as Bert, Anna Bywaters-Baldwin as Jane Banks and Ryan Burton as Michael Banks.
Ryleigh Flemming, 15, a sophomore at Eastern View High School, said she felt like she was a perfect fit for Mary Poppins.
“This is a really cool part for me because I’ve always loved children,” Ryleigh Flemming said. “Being able to work with them is fun and this is like my first main character. It’s been really fun because it’s like me in real life.”
Marshall, 13, an eighth grader at Culpeper Middle School, said it was fun to step into the iconic shoes originally played by Dick Van Dyke.
“It’s exciting because he’s very upbeat and always happy,” Marshall said.
He also gets to sing the classic Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and yes, it’s as hard to sing as it is to spell.
“It’s easy for most people, until you have to spell it out and that’s when it gets challenging,” Marshall said.
Acting out in nature at Verdun also lends itself to the musical.
“It’s beautiful out here,” Ryleigh Flemming said. “It’s really cool because during ‘Feed the Birds,’ all the birds start tweeting. It’s very realistic.”
The cast worked from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for more than two weeks to master the play. For Sycamore Park third grader Bywaters-Baldwin, that meant a lot of time working at home to memorize her lines as well.
“Sometimes when I have rest time, I listen to the CD and I look at the script and memorize my lines,” she said.
For Burton, he was excited to be part of Windmore’s camp for the second year in a row.
“This has been something I’ve been looking forward to since last year when I was in Peter Pan,” he said. “It’s just wonderful to be outside and everybody is so nice, it’s just fun to be here.”
Ainsley Ayers, 14, a ninth grader at EVHS, portrays Mrs. Winifred Banks and Jake Downey, 14, a ninth grader at Fauquier High School, portrays Mr. George Banks.
Was it hard to act like a dad for Downey?
“Listening to the CD he sounded very angry,” he said. “I like to portray what he is in the movie, I just think of when I get really mad or I see my dad get really mad.”
A new addition to the musical is Mrs. Corry, portrayed by Chloe Geronymaki. Instead of the classic animated scene for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” the cast performs the scene in Mrs. Corry’s “Talking Shop.”
“It’s just fun just running around and singing,” Geronymaki said.
Tiffany Downey, producer of the musical, said it’s a great opportunity to have the children get outside and interact.
“It’s been wonderful,” Downey said. “I think it has been so fun to see the children playing out here. They get to interact and talk, you get to see the mentorship between the older and younger children. It’s just a different environment they have nowadays growing up.”
The play will be presented at Verdun Saturday at 1 and 5 p.m. Tickets are available online at windmorefoundation.org or at the door. Children under 6 are Free, $5 for ages 6 to 18, $10 for adults and $15 for immediate family (mom, dad, and siblings that are all together).