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‘Mary Poppins’ flies into Rhode Island for two-week run
Don Fowler
The National Tour Company of "Mary Poppins."

Rachel Wallace is thrilled to be the leading lady in the Disney production of “Mary Poppins,” the hit Broadway musical that is at the Providence Performing Arts Center through February 19 for a rare two-week run.

I caught up with her in New York City, where the cast and crew are rehearsing 12-hour days before a stop in Charlestown, S.C. and then settling into their hotel in Providence. Wallace is from upstate New York and received her BFA from the University of North Carolina School for the Arts.

“I’ve wanted to act since I was a little girl,” she said. “I love it. There are new challenges every day.”

The latest challenge is working with some new cast members who must adjust quickly. Rachel said she had little trouble with the British accent.

“Most of the directors are British, and we are all getting used to the many ‘Briticisms.’”

She has also adjusted to the thrill of flying across the stage.

“The first time was when I was understudying the role, and my friends videotaped me,” she said. “I was so excited.”

PPAC has titled this year’s Broadway series “From Screen to Stage” and “Mary Poppins” has made the transition beautifully.

“This is a musical for everyone,” she said. “Not only is it a great show to bring children, it makes some important statements and has a great story.”

Rachel and the cast look forward to settling in for two weeks, a longer-than-usual stay for most touring companies.

“Many of the cast members go off sightseeing, but the first thing I do is find a grocery store and pharmacy and take care of my creature comforts.

“Cities are all different. I like walkable cities and first find out which way is north. Tell me about the restaurants.” (The most-asked question I get.)

Rachel is not just interested in musicals. Her degree is in acting, and she plans to pursue film and television and has a desire to do Shakespeare. With a background in New York regional theatres, she has developed a well-rounded résumé. She is booked through September to play Mary Poppins, and then it is back to New York to see what is next.

“Mary Poppins” has received rave reviews from critics and audiences, both in New York and on the road. You’ll be humming along to many of the familiar songs.

Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays, and good seats are still available. Call 421-ARTS for reservations.

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