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    By Todd Martin

    It is the magic that makes it great and that makes it such a challenge.

    The end of a school year signals the start of another community tradition, the Killeen ISD Summer Musical, set for dual shows on June 26 and 27 at Shoemaker High School.

    The 82-member cast of first- through ninth-graders are working daily on their British accents and chimney sweeping for this year's musical, "Mary Poppins, Jr."

    Shows at the Shoemaker auditorium are 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. Adult tickets are $5, tickets for children 3 to 17 are $1 and all-show passes are $15. Tickets are available through the KISD Treasury Department, KISD Fine Arts Department and at the door.

    New Ellison High School ninth-grader Analisse Nicholson said she was surprised and honored to earn the leading, title role in the classic musical.

    "She's witty and she's done this before so she knows how they will react," she said of Mary Poppins. "It's a fun character. She's a proper British lady from nowhere. It's magical."

    That seems to be the "magic" word with this musical.

    "The biggest challenge is making the magic," said director Christine Wortham, a former theater instructor now assistant principal at Patterson Middle School. "We have to find ways to create that on stage, to translate that."

    There is also a touch of magic in pulling off the annual KISD musical with less than four weeks from the end of the school year to show time. Seven district choir and theater instructors and a slew of volunteers are on the job daily.

    Students are up early and continue practicing at the end of rehearsals. The effort, they said, will be worth it.

    "It's a lot of fun," said Noah Johnson, a Killeen resident and homeschooled student playing the part of Bert. "It's exhausting, but a great experience."

    The musical Mary Poppins, he said, is a family favorite and nostalgic with all the familiar music and characters.

    Ryan McGinnis, a new sixth-grader at the Smith Middle School STEM Academy is playing the role of Michael, one of the children in Poppins' care. He said he enjoys the transformation in his character and the others.

    "I like that he's mischievous," he said. "He has a big imagination. He sees the world in a different perspective. I like all the twists and turns and back and forth. You see the characters change. The family gets closer together."

    "It takes a family that is pretty dysfunctional," Wortham said, "and an outsider comes in and mends it so they can be a family."

    A large cast of students and staff from varied schools and age groups singing, dancing and learning together to pull off a highly familiar, favorite musical - a bit of magic must be in the air.

    June 13, 2018

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