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Country Theatre Workshop brings Mary Poppins to life

August 3, 2018

Welcome to 17 Cherry Tree Lane, where the magical Mary Poppins descends from the sky to care for the unruly Banks children.

The 1964 musical-fantasy film starred a young Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, in her feature film debut alongside Dick Van Dyke.

Cissna Park’s Country Theatre Workshop is putting on that same fun musical with an even younger Mary Poppins as the lead — 17-year-old Lauren Pueschell, of Watseka. Performances will be held during the next two weekends.

“I grew up watching ‘Mary Poppins’ as a kid,” Pueschell said. “I love Julie Andrews and ‘The Sound of Music.’ I wanted to audition for the role and see what happened.”

Pueschell hit the CTW stage in 2014 for its production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” and she always has been involved in school plays at Watseka High School.

In this show, Pueschell gets to work not only with younger cast members, but with her family as well. Her dad, Mike Pueschell, portrays George Banks; her mom, Rachel Pueschell, portrays Mrs. Corry; and her younger sister, Moriah, portrays Annie, a chimney sweep dancer and a “Supercal” dancer.

“Working with younger cast members can be a little stressful, but we learn from each other and try to create a fun atmosphere for not only ourselves but the audience as well,” Lauren said.

“I always thought this show was about Mary Poppins, and then I realized it’s not about her at all! It’s about George Banks and how he’s so consumed with his job that he’s missing out on moments with his family that he’ll never get back,” said director Kena Clark.

You’d normally be able to catch Clark on the stage, as she’s been in more than 60 productions. And this isn’t her first time directing.

“I have directed several shows for CTW, and I’m also the assistant director for the drama department at Milford High School,” Clark said. “My hope is that this show will help us see that we all have the potential to be a George Banks but with a little bit of luck, we can change! Anything can happen if we let it!”

Lauren Pueschell said this musical is a classic, at least in her house.

“It’s a show that people can identify with in many different ways,” she said. “There’s so much talent, and you’ll leave singing songs from the show, even if you’re not familiar with the movie. It’s a really fun introduction to theater, especially if you’re a little kid.”

Weeknight shows start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. Doors open 45 minutes prior to each performance.

The Country Theatre Workshop is at 1280 E. 770N Road in Cissna Park. Tickets are $12 and must be reserved by calling Linda at 815-457-2626 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

For more information, visit country- theatre.org.

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