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Getting the scoop on the behind the scenes: Mary Poppins

Faith+Bartelt+%28left%29%2C+who+played+Mary+Poppins%2C+and+co-star%2C+Jordan+Keso%2C+are+all+smiles+after+the+RHS+production+of+Disney%27s+Mary+Poppins.
Faith Bartelt (left), who played Mary Poppins, and co-star, Jordan Keso, are all smiles after the RHS production of Disney's Mary Poppins.

Faith Bartelt (left), who played Mary Poppins, and co-star, Jordan Keso, are all smiles after the RHS production of Disney's Mary Poppins.

Faith Bartelt (left), who played Mary Poppins, and co-star, Jordan Keso, are all smiles after the RHS production of Disney's Mary Poppins.

Emily Ditzler and Sydney Bachmann

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For many years, the Rhinelander High School Drama Club has performed numerous classic plays with much success. However, the public only sees the final performance, not the backstage chaos. Knowing what goes on behind the scenes of the fabulous dramas allows for insight into the complicated process that brings the club’s success.

Plays aren’t just organized and learned within a month; there’s planning, casting, and set up to be done long before the performance date. Having been Drama Club director for eight years now, Kristin Larsen knows the process all too well.

“The advisors started working last spring, because we had to pick a play, and there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that has to happen before we have auditions,” commented Larsen.

 After the play is chosen and auditions are held, casting becomes the next big step in the timeline of preparation.

“There’s always main parts that are really hard to cast,” Larsen shared. “My casting team and I have to keep everything in mind: how the actors have worked in the past and if they can pull off the huge role, because some roles involve so much work.”

However, there’s more to casting then just looking at talent. Larson has other criteria she uses to carefully choose the roles.

“Past performances play a huge part. I want to know that I can rely on somebody. It’s not necessarily about whether they’re amazing on stage, it about whether I can rely on them to be at rehearsals; that plays a huge role,” explained Larsen.

Being apart of the play comes with big responsibilities. The participants are required to come to rehearsals Monday through Thursday from 5:30-9:00, as well as on the weekends during the last month.

“I would say they pretty much have no social life for those couple of weeks, except in the auditorium,” said Larsen.

Faith Bartelt, lead actress for this fall’s play, Mary Poppins, also shared some feedback on how much effort she has invested.

“We have three hour rehearsals a night, and those are gradually getting bigger; this week it’s four hours,” commented Bartelt.  “I also have to memorize all my lines and all my lyrics outside of rehearsal, so I’d say I spend 4-5 hours a night on it.”

In order for a group of that size to be able to get along and work together, Bartelt shares why having a teamwork atmosphere is most important.

“This cast works really well together; it’s almost all new people. Over half of our cast has never been in a show before so everybody’s very reliant on one another; they’re willing to help each other out,” Bartelt explained.

With an eager and helpful cast this year, Larsen and Bartelt predict great success for this fall’s production, Mary Poppins.

“I think it’s going to be super extravagant because we have more set pieces and technical stuff going on behind the scenes,” Bartelt said. “There is also a lot more music and a lot more dancing; it’s much bigger than anything I’ve been in.”

Predictions of amazing drama productions keep the enthusiasm levels high in the club and the community. Twice a year another performance rolls around, with aspirations for even more impressive productions in the future.

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