Performers and stagehands at Pequot Lakes High School are set for a performance of the classic "Mary Poppins."

Senior Mataya Larson will portray the fun-loving yet prim-and-proper nanny in a role she has anticipated for a long time.

"My first show was in ninth grade and that was ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and I kind of wasn't really into theater," Larson said. "Then I was in 'Grease' in 10th grade, and that just made me fall in love with theater. When I found out after 10th grade that ‘Mary Poppins’ was going to happen, I was like, ‘OK, I'm ready for the lead role. I can do this.’”

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the show by a full year, but that only made Larson’s eagerness to perform grow.

In another main role, sophomore Brayden Werk will play the role of Bert, the quirky jack-of-all-trades.

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“Bert is the storyteller of it all,” Werk said. “Mary Poppins and everyone else acts it out. He's also in it, but his main role is to tell the story of what ‘Mary Poppins’ is.”

The cast began rehearsing for the show in mid-September. Though the two leads are feeling prepared for opening night, they admit there are plenty of challenges involved in their respective roles. For Larson, it is getting used to the nuances, both of the character and the show in general.

“There's a lot of dancing, and I'm not a dancer,” Larson said. “Mary Poppins just has this sort of finesse to her. She's always standing up straight, and I'm going to be wearing heels, so walking around properly can be a challenge.”

For Werk, it is adapting to the additional responsibilities of a main character.

“This is actually my first main character role, and there are a lot of lines,” Werk said. “That's the main thing for me - memorizing where each part goes into each thing.”

They are among the roughly 40 cast members set to perform, and they said the whole group - high-schoolers and elementary kids alike - connected in a way they did not expect.

“It's kind of surprising how instantly we all kind of clicked,” Larson said. “We just easily all fell into place, and things went together so quickly.

“It's a great cast and everyone is so easygoing. We're always cracking jokes backstage - and might get scolded a few times - but we’re just having fun,” she said.

Because of this, according to Werk and Larson, the show is coming together as they hoped it would.

“I think that it's going to be great,” Werk said. “I think that there have been challenges, but we're all getting through them, and I think that it's going to be really good.”

For Larson, she simply hopes to be a part of a show the audience enjoys.

“I just want to put on a good show, and for people to enjoy it,” she said. “I just want people to have fun, and be able to laugh and smile.”

When asked what audiences can expect from the show, both had the same answer: Magic.

“Mary Poppins is magical, so expect some magical stuff to happen,” Larson said.

"Mary Poppins"

  • When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12-13, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14
  • Where: Pequot Lakes High School auditorium
  • Tickets: $5 each for general admission for any age. Buy tickets at https://www.vancoevents.com/us/eventlist/isd186

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.