By JANELLE FAIGNANT
The local production behind the biggest word you ever heard has a cast to match. Rutland Youth Theatre’s “Mary Poppins” features 71 local actors from kindergarten through grade 12.
The story of the magical flying nanny stars Leah Chase-Bigelow, a 17-year-old Rutland High School senior, as Mary, and Burr and Burton Academy freshman Valentine Giesey, 14, from Shrewsbury, as Bert, the sort of Mr. Poppins.
At a rehearsal at Grace Church recently, they talked about their roles between learning the story’s infamous song, “Supercalifragilistic” — “Something to say when you don’t know what to say.”
“She’s very no-nonsense,” Chase-Bigelow said. “But she’s also just really fun. She’s an exaggerated version of me.”
“It might be,” Giesey said when asked if this is the first production of this size he’s been in. “This is a really big cast; it’s awesome energy.
“The music and the story of Mary Poppins is so classic,” he said. As a huge fan of Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert in the 1964 Disney movie, Valentine knows his character well from growing up watching it “constantly,” and seeing it on Broadway.
With such a large cast, the kids were broken into three groups to rehearse separately, “The bigs, the middles, and the littles,” explained Tegan Waite, director and choreographer. “By the time all 71 are in the same room together they each know what their job is.”
Born and raised in Rutland, Waite, 21, is a senior at Castleton University.
“I was originally an RYT kid myself,” she said. “It’s come full-circle.
“Ultimately, I want the art that comes out to be their own work.”
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22, and at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, at the Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St. in Rutland. Tickets are $12, $10 for children and seniors; call 802-775-0570, or go online to www.paramountvt.org.