Mary Poppins The Musical begins Feb. 14

PROVIDED

Luke Housman of Rensselaer (left) plays Michael Banks in the Memorial Opera House production of Mary Poppins The Musical this month. Laura Gorski (middle) plays Mary Poppins and Reagan Smedley will fill the role of Jane Banks.

VALPARAISO — The addition of a Rensselaer teenager to the “Mary Poppins: The Musical” cast had director Angela Marcum remembering her days at St. Joseph’s College.

Marcum is currently putting a cast of 28 actors — including Rensselaer Central Middle School eighth-grader Luke Housman — through the paces as they prepare for “Mary Poppins: The Musical” at the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso beginning Valentine’s Day Feb. 14.

The show also features an 18-piece orchestra.

A director of over 50 productions and an actor in many others, Marcum served as a guest director at the request of SJC director of theater, John Rahe, during the production of the comedy “Lend Me A Tenor” in 2016.

“I assisted in helping John teach class at St. Joe also,” Marcum said.

Marcum is aware of Rensselaer’s support of local theater that includes the Carnegie Players, Fendig Summer Theater for Children as well as the now-defunct Saint Joseph’s College troupe, the Columbian Players.

“Rensselaer is lucky to have the Carnegie Players and Fendig in their community,” she said. “In most communities, you have to go out of town to find places to perform.”

Eighty people auditioned for the 28 performances in “Mary Poppins,” with Housman earning the role as Michael Banks and Reagan Smedley, of Valparaiso, given the role of Jane Banks.

The role of Mary Poppins went to Laura Gorski.

“She (Smedley) and Luke are great together,” said Marcum, who earned an undergraduate degree in theater at the University of Illinois before obtaining a masters in theater studies from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va.

“He came and auditioned and was great, He takes direction extremely well,” Marcum added of Housman, who travels to Valparaiso with his mother, Kristine, for three- to four-hour rehearsals on weeknights.

This is Marcum’s first show at the Memorial Opera House, which has a capacity of around 300 people. Only a handful of tickets for all nine shows on the weekends of Feb. 14, Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 are available.

Show dates and times are Friday, Feb. 14 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m.

To order tickets, go to memorialoperahouse.org.

Marcum came to directing at the Opera House after a stint in Seattle, Wash., where she directed a radio show, “The Bishop’s Wife,” in November. She says she directs or assists on three to seven productions every year.