CHINOOK — Surely the best child acting parts are characters who start naughty and end up nice.
P.T. Travers knew that when she created Michael and Jane Banks.
Michael is the cheeky but vulnerable child who learns to adore his nanny, the magical Mary Poppins, and Jane his only slightly less naughty sister. They scare away multiple nannies to try to get their father’s love and attention before Mary Poppins appears — like magic — and makes the entire family clean up its act.
At auditions for the Peninsula Association of Performing Artists’ production of “Mary Poppins,” director Alicia Trusty had a choice.
Trying out for the role of Michael were talented boys, including Aarin Hoygaard and Westin Billeci. Both had experience with PAPA in last year’s show, “Beauty and the Beast,” Aarin as Chip and Westin in multiple roles including a wolf and in the ensemble. Aarin had also just concluded playing the Bosun’s Mate in the Peninsula Players’ spring production of “HMS Pinafore.”
Trusty decided to cast them both.
She did the same with the role of Jane Banks — casting real-life sisters Evelyn and Violet Normand, who are 11 and 10.
Multiple casting adds flexibility and the chance of an occasional rest day during a run of five weekends, said Trusty, who has a rich arts background but is directing her first community theater show.
“It gives multiple opportunities to people,” she said. “These are really big roles and these are kiddos, after all. It is really helpful to give them the rest that they need.”
With the sisters, one begins a sentence and the other finishes it. “It gives me ideas when I watch her,” said Violet, and Evelyn added, “And me, too, when I watch her.”
“It’s been fun, but a lot of work,” Evelyn added, when asked about the rehearsal process.
The show is a true family affair. The girls’ mom, Genice Normand, is in the cast as a magical shop owner. Westin’s grandmother, Stephanie Fritts, who made her stage debut with Westin in “Beast,” plays a couple of roles; one is a statue that magically comes to life.
“Westin asked me to audition for ‘Beauty and the Beast.’” Fritts recalled. “I did, and then we decided we wanted to be part of this production — and this year he got a principal part.
“It’s fun to do something with your grand children. This is great fun!”
Opening night is Friday, June 28 and the show runs for five weekends at the theater at Fort Columbia State Park (entrance by the Chinook Tunnel). No Discover Pass is needed for admission. to the theater.