• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Theatre’s Summer Academy presents ‘Mary Poppins’

THE SUMMER ACADEMY brings “Mary Poppins” to the Woodford Theatre this weekend. Bella Wolfe, at far left, front, portrays the title character. The 17-year-old hopes to study musical theatre after she graduates from Woodford County High School next year. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Being onstage for the Woodford Theatre Summer Academy’s “Mary Poppins JR.” will be an opportunity for Jacob Ernst and Jill Kohr, who portray Mr. and Mrs. Banks, to bring a classic Broadway musical to local audiences.

“It’s been fun to take these roles … and give them life,” said Jill, 17. She and Jacob cannot believe how far this cast has come in one week.

They were making final preparations this week for performances Friday, June 15 to Sunday, June 17.

“A lot can be accomplished in a short amount of time,” said Jacob, 16. He and others in this year’s Summer Academy participated in pre-rehearsals for a week before rehearsals began in earnest last week, according to Woodford Theatre education director Vanessa Becker Weig. She said one of the reasons she chose “Mary Poppins” was so her young actors would have an opportunity to hone their tap dancing skills, while learning an English dialect and about time in London history when this story unfolds.

Bella Wolfe, who hopes to study musical theatre after she graduates from Woodford County High School next year, described the Summer Academy as a chance to continue her training as an actor, dancer and singer. It also allows her to perform as the title character in a musical she watched with her dad, Jeff, growing up.

Bella, who has been participating in Woodford Theatre’s education programs since she was 13 years old, embraces the experience of preparing for a performance and then getting to witness how a story, character or song affects an audience.

“It’s just so rewarding when you see audiences smiling,” said Bella. And she appreciates being able to help mentor young actors who share her love of being onstage and be reminded why it’s important to have fun.

“One of the things that I do love about the Summer Academy is it takes kids of all different experiences and they just bring so many different things to the table,” said Weig.

She also wants to give young actors an experience similar to summer repertory theatre.

“Mary Poppins” featuring 40 young thespians – ages 9 to 18 – opens Friday night at 7:30 with additional performances Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and a Sunday matinee at 2. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults, and may be purchased by visiting woodfordtheatre.com or calling the box office at 873-0648.

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