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Maryville Young Players to bring Mary Poppins Jr. to performing arts center

Location offers unique challenges

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MARYVILLE, Mo. — It's super (califragilisticexpialidocious) said Vanessa Parsons about this year's change of venue for Maryville Young Players.

Maryville Young Players, for the first time ever, will hold its summer production — this year it is Mary Poppins Jr. — at the Lee and Nina Schneider Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, June 14, Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16.

“I love it,” she said. “I love it I love it I love it. We loved our time at the university (Northwest Missouri State University) ... but it's so nice to have everything in one place. …”

Behind the audience seating and below the technical booth, hang costumes - rows and rows of costumes, for various plays the Maryville High School students have produced and now those from Maryville Young Players as well. Parsons said the items stored in her basement and at other locations have been consolidated at the high school.

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Chimney sweeps, Kasinda Leivan, Mattie Dimmit, Hilde Wheeler and Essie Voss listen to instruction during practice for Mary Poppins Jr. to be presented by Maryville Young Players next week.

A bit of an inventory nightmare, Parsons said props and costumes do get shared between MYP and the high school productions, but that it did even when MYP wasn't using the facility.

“It's a very symbiotic relationship,” she continued explaining. “When this was built, it was built with the intention of Young Players moving here.”

The facility holds 697 seats and MYPs largest audience as 550, so the theater has enough seats for the production's needs.

“It will be very full, but it will be lovely, Parsons said. “It will be nice to have a really full audience.”

One hundred and thirty-two children and teens are part of this summer's production, a very average number according to Parsons. Even with the shift from afternoon to evening rehearsals she said the participants are excited to be a part of the show.

Because of the number of actors involved, the cast was split in two, with each receiving a matinee and evening showtime. This also helps place more players in lead roles.

Lucy Parsons, playing Mary Poppins in one of the casts, will enter high school this fall and is aging out of the players group. She will however be able to help with the sets and backstage.

“It's sort of bittersweet. I'm glad that this is my last show. … Since my first year, I've begged to do Mary Poppins. They finally caved to let me do it for my last show,” she joked then continued saying it's a lot less nerve-wracking than the previous eight years she's been with the organization.

“I think it's a mixture that I know it so well and that it'll be a good show because I've been taught the past eight years, really well by everyone. … I would have been OK working tech for Mary Poppins. I love Mary Poppins.”

Many people have been key in keeping the organization producing entertaining shows for audiences of all ages. Young Players organization Co-founder Tye Parsons designed the set audiences will see June 14-16.

Vanessa Parsons and Janice Pargas create the costumes for the production. Pargas has served as lead costumer for the last few years. Many high school students who have aged out of the production, also help creating costumes, with lights, sound and backstage. Actors' mothers and teachers also help backstage during the rehearsals and performances.

“It's a great show,” Vanessa Parsons said.


Some of the unique challenges the group has found have been partly to do with the facility's backstage size, orchestra pit and changing room options.

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Josie Schreck and Chloe Nielsen will portray Ms. Smythe and Katie Nanna in Maryville Young Players production of Mary Poppins Jr. next week. Shows are set for 7 p.m. Friday, June 14; 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15; and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, June 16. Tickets cost $6 and are available at the door or Maryville Hy-Vee.

Vanessa Parsons said creating a space for costume changes close to the stage has been challenging. Getting creative, volunteers, parents and staff used large foam rolls to block space in the hallway just north of the stage allowing actors privacy to change costumes.

She said another item they're getting used to is the smaller amount of space behind the curtain. Backstage moms and teachers help direct the actors and keep cues straight. While the closer they are the better they can hear, it's also less space for the actors about to go onstage. The production is using the FEMA gym has a studio theater for prep during the show.

The orchestra pit at the Lee and Nina Schneider Center for the Performing Arts does not raise and lower, it has to be manually removed. This caused a difficult choice for the group. Due to such a large cast, the space was deemed more necessary than the pit.

Another issue the production has dealt with is the schedule. While the production is in full swing now and the show is just a week away, the winter months and snow days pushed the show dates back a week.

Vanessa Parsons also explained they work around swim team and baseball schedules, but that the leads have to make a bit of a bigger commitment.

“We really do try to accommodate everyone's schedules,” she said. “We understand. We're pretty flexible. … The night time rehearsals have been really nice too. We've felt like we've had the day to get things organized, get things ready.”

Community support

With the help of parents and teachers, this production allows children and teens to put on an entertaining show for the community, but it's also in part thanks to some community partners Vanessa Parsons said.

Maryville Hy-Vee and Maryville Elks Lodge are

“The Elks are awesome,” said Vanessa Parsons. “They help so much. … The partnership that we have had with them is immense. The partnership we have with Hy-Vee is huge because they also sponsor us significantly.”

This year, the Elks provided dress rehearsal dinner will be held Thursday, June 13, in the Maryville High School gym.

Providing the backdrops for the play is the company Kenmark out of Overland Park, Kansas, has created the backdrops for this production.

“They're awesome,” Vanessa Parsons said. “They have a great website.”

Making it MYP

While much of this production will be recognizable to the audience, there will be some songs more unknown, as MYP is making this play their own.

“You'll have to come and see,” said Vanessa Parsons.

This production is based more on the Broadway musical than the 1964 movie with Julie Andrews. There are no penguins, and no flying for Mary Poppins, but there will be actor Ellie Parsons, daughter of Vanessa and Tye, who is in her fifth year with MYP.

Ellie, 10, is cast in the enigmatic role of Mrs. Corry.

“She is a very old, crazy ('eccentric' said Vanessa Parsons, her mom.) person,” Ellie said. “She's insane. That's not much different from my personality.”

She made her own shoes and said Mrs. Corry's Talking Shop is where the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” will be performed.

Explaining that she learned how to spell the word very quickly, Ellie said she already has it memorized.

“You have to spell it really fast,” she said. “I was a pro at No. 2 (second year with MYP). I like a lot of it. … I like being able to talk to new friends, and being able to show people my acting skills.”

Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Friday, June 14; 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15; and 2 and 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 16. Tickets are on sale now at the Lee and Nina Schneider Center for the Performing Arts box office and Maryville Hy-Vee.

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