Houston’s Theater Under the Stars (TUTS) did not disappoint with it’s wonderful run of Mary Poppins. The costumes and sets were fantastic, but as always it was the performers that made the show engaging. TUTS has a large ensemble cast with many who have been with the theater company for years. One of those performers is 19 year old McKenna Marmolejo, who is now an ensemble cast member and has been working with TUTS since she was nine. McKenna was gracious enough to sit down and talk with Texas Lifestyle Magazine about her role in Mary Poppins and her experience with Theater Under the Stars.
What is your process to prepare for a show?
Stretching before a show is always a must. I love to listen to a workout mix before as well, just to get into the zone. It includes a lot of Beyonce, of course.
What are the joys and challenges of working on a production like Mary Poppins?
I have loved working with this amazing cast of people. I grew up with a handful of them, so it is nice to have comfort in the rehearsal space, while also making new friends. I would have to say my biggest challenge was working on the spelling of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! It was something I had to wake up and go over every morning.
What is the most compelling thing about Mary Poppins (from an audience perspective)?
Definitely the flying. During tech, we were lucky enough to have some time in between numbers to watch Mary (Christina DeCicco) fly out into the audience.
What is one thing that would surprise audiences about what goes on behind the scenes during a production?
There are some crazy quick changes back stage. Not only do we have to get out of hair and costumes, but for a lot of the numbers, we have to completely change our makeup.
What advice do you have for young girls who want to be performers?
Believe in yourself! When I was younger – and still even now – I had a lot of problems believing in myself as a performer. It took me a while to get out of that mental fog, but once I did, it was so much easier to let go and just be in the performance. I would also like to add that continuing to take classes is incredibly important. If you ever think that you’ve hit your peak, keep going. It’s amazing what an extra ballet class or yoga class can do for your body.
What it is like to work with such a large ensemble cast?
The energy that we all bring to the performance is great! We share lots of moments – especially during Step in Time, when we’re all chimney sweeps – and I think that is super special to have in a cast.