Everyone Gets a Chance to Shine

Ellie Nelson performing in  Mary Poppins  at Lundstrum Performing Arts.

Ellie Nelson performing in Mary Poppins at Lundstrum Performing Arts.

When Mindy Nelson signed her eight-year-old daughter Ellie up for Lundstrum’s Mary Poppins, she had no idea what to expect.

A few weeks later, she saw Ellie –and 43 other performers ages 8-13—take the stage in a fun and spirited interpretation of this beloved show. According to Mindy, “We were all in total amazement—as in jaws dropped—that this production was presented with less than three weeks of practice. It was incredible!”

From an early age, Ellie was interested in singing, dancing and acting and Mindy wanted to find a summer camp to strengthen her skills and also culminate in a real show. After learning about Lundstrum through an online search, she walked through the doors for the very first time for Ellie’s placement audition—and was delighted to find a warm and welcoming family of teachers, staff and families of other cast members. “From the moment we stepped in, everyone was so kind and welcoming. We didn’t feel out of place or intimidated, we really felt we belonged,” said Mindy.

Mary Poppins Director Kathleen Bloom has been a professional singer and actor for more than 30 years in New York and the Twin Cities, directing many plays and musicals across the Twin Cities. “We had a large and talented cast of young people for this year’s Mary Poppins,” Kathleen notes. “I love to nurture the talents of our more experienced students, but I also love giving a strong foundation to those who are just beginning to fall in love with this work.”  Kathleen cast Ellie as a Park Stroller appearing in “Jolly Holiday,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” and “Step in Time.”

Ellie Nelson, center, at home with her family in St. Paul.

Ellie Nelson, center, at home with her family in St. Paul.

Ellie loved all her teachers, however one story stood out. One day, Ellie’s acting teacher talked about how each role is important, even the park strollers. On their ride home that day, the conversation went like this:

Ellie:  Mom, do you know that even the park strollers are really important?

Mindy:  Of course!

Ellie: Because my teacher took her daughter to see Wicked and guess who her favorite character was?

Me:  Glinda? Elphaba?

Ellie: No...the MONKEYS!!!  Out of the whole play, she liked the monkeys the best!

After a great experience in the summer, Ellie will return to Lundstrum to continue her classes in musical theater. Beyond the training in singing, dancing and acting, Mindy is thrilled with the spirit of caring and support from teachers at Lundstrum. “I wish every kid on this earth could have a group of cheerleaders like we found at Lundstrum. I think when kids know that people believe in them, they start to believe in themselves, and that was Ellie’s biggest take away from Mary Poppins,” said Mindy.  

“What is unique about Lundstrum Performing Arts is the amazing array of seasoned professionals in the classrooms and the joyful culture we have created,” says Executive Director Amy Ellis. “The teaching artists at Lundstrum are passionate about helping young people release their artistic capacity when passing down the craft of musical theater. Children find their unique place in the world when they find their gifts.”

Interested in learning more? Find out more about Lundstrum’s unique curriculum of integrated musical theater training at www.lundstrum.org.

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Joan OlsonComment