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Scecina senior flies high with lead role in 'Mary Poppins'

Lauren Gray (center) and Bo Sims (left), who play Mary Poppins and Bert, and some of their fellow cast members from the 2017 spring musical, "Mary Poppins."

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

Lauren Gray starred in the lead role of “Annie” when the musical was performed at Footlite Musicals in Downtown Indianapolis. She was just 11 and a fourth-grade student at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. 

Now a senior at Scecina, Lauren is performing on stage for the first time in the high school’s musical, as she earned the lead role in the spring production of “Mary Poppins.” 

“ ‘Mary Poppins’ is the first show I ever saw on Broadway when I was 7, so it’s come full circle for me,” said Lauren, who estimates she’s seen seven or more shows in New York. 

The beloved “Mary Poppins” features popular songs like “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and “A Spoonful of Sugar.” It will be performed at 7 p.m. March 24 and 25 in the school’s gymnasium. 

Each year Spring Musical is a major activity for many Scecina students. This year 65 students are taking part as actors, musicians and crew for “Mary Poppins.” They spend hours rehearsing. In the final three months, they’ve been practicing most nights from 7 to 9 p.m. 

Lauren played violin in the orchestra for last year’s musical, “Tarzan.” 

“This is a dream playing ‘Mary Poppins’ this year,” she said. 

Music – singing and playing is Lauren’s love. She’s played violin in Scecina’s orchestra all four years of high school. She has sung in the Advanced Chorus and this year in the Women’s Chorus. Lauren plans to study violin performance at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., where notable alumni include country singers Trisha Yearwood, Josh Turner and Brad Paisley. 

Lauren likes that so many students can experience taking part in Scecina’s plays and musicals. “We have a chorus where they are wrestlers and football players, because everyone gets in, no one gets cut from being in the musical,” she said. Casts have been as large as 106 because everyone can participate. 

Co-starring in “Mary Poppins” as cheerful chimney sweep Bert is senior Bo Sims. Bo pointed out that he and Lauren starred together in their eighth-grade play at Our Lady of Lourdes. Bo played the lead character in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” while Lauren was the primary antagonist, the spoiled Veruca Salt. Now they’re together again as Mary Poppins and Bert. 

It’s Bo’s second Scecina musical. “I was in the chorus last year, and it’s a whole lot different this year playing the lead,” he said. 

Margaret Zeh Fulford is a Scecina theology teacher who’s directed or co-directed many musicals. She said the directors choose different types of shows over four years so students can find one that piques their interest or participate each year and have different experiences. 

“Last year most people were animals, apes and jungle creatures and this year some of those same kids are chimney sweeps and colorful couples,” she said. 

The musical also is directed by Leslie Zimmerman Young ’99 with help from Scecina theater teacher Kathryn Wetzel. Music teacher Donnie Glowinski is the musical director. 

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