Rhea Middle student Sara Swafford takes lead role in ‘Mary Poppins’ musical at Playhouse
It’s a magical summer for Rhea Middle’s upcoming 6th-grader Sara Swafford. The young lady is playing a lead role, Jane Banks, in the Cumberland County Playhouse (CCP) production of “Mary Poppins”. The play which opened June 12 will run through August 16 at CCP’s Mainstage Theater in Crossville, Tenn.
With only 10 shows remaining, Swafford says be sure to bring the entire family as there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a good experience no matter what age you are,” says the 11-year-old star. “It’s magical because there lots of magic tricks. Mary Poppins flies around with magical powers. It makes you happy to watch with your family.”
The musical features a magical nanny, Mary Poppins, who insists, “Anything can happen if you let it.” But Swafford knows the real magic happens when her cast creates smiles and laughter throughout the audience.
“It’s a lot of fun to see people laugh and enjoy the show,” she says.
Swafford shares the role of Jane Banks with Sophie Burnett as part of an all-star cast directed by Britt Hancock with whom she’s worked with before. Last November and December the 11-year-old actress played Kathy Cratchit in the company’s production of ‘Scrooge’ which was also directed by Hancock.
Of Hancock, Sara says, “He’s really funny. He’s been directing a really long time.”
CCP Stage Manager Kayla Jenkins says Sara is an extraordinary talent and a lot of fun to work with.
“When she first started she was nervous, but loved what she was doing. She loved to sing her songs,” said Jenkins. “I’ve worked with a lot of kids. It can be quite the process, but Sara is quite the trooper.”
Of the show, Jenkins says, “It is full of family fun with a wonderful message. It’s makes you cry and makes you laugh. It sends chills up my spine every single night. The dances are wonderful with amazing choreography. We have a lot of fun.”
According to Dayton City School students, Bailey (age 10) and sister Reece Brown (age 6), the show is definitely worth the drive.
“We really liked it. We laughed a lot,” said Bailey whose face lit up when asked about the show. “My papa had never seen it before and said he really, really liked it.”
Reactions like this make it all worth it says a proud Nicole Swafford – Sara’s mother.
“It’s hard not to stand back with a smile on your face and be proud of them,” she says. “They have had six to seven hour rehearsals per night, but when people are asking for autographs after a show it makes it all worth it.”
Be sure to order your “Mary Poppins” tickets online here, as many are already sold-out. Alternatively, you can call the box office at (931) 484-5000.
As for Sara, she’s looking forward to starting the school year at Rhea Middle. In addition to performing arts, she loves cheerleading and playing basketball.