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Blugold finds joy and friendships playing Mary Poppins in local theater production

| Judy Berthiaume

Kathryn Flynn is living her dream as a Blugold.

No, the UW-Eau Claire senior hasn’t yet landed the perfect job or been accepted into a prestigious graduate program.

The music vocal performance major did, however, win the starring role in Eau Claire Children Theatre’s production of the much loved “Mary Poppins,” an experience that she says is bringing her great joy because it’s been a longtime dream to play the magical Mary.

“I remember watching ‘Mary Poppins’ the first time in front of my TV in my living room with my family,” Flynn, a native of West Bend, says of discovering the movie as a child. “It was pure magic. I’ve marveled over Julie Andrews’ voice ever since I knew how to sing.

“So, getting to play a role that she is world-renowned for is an absolute honor.”

Since transferring to UW-Eau Claire last year, Flynn has had prominent roles in a couple of campus productions, including “Don Giovanni.”

The on-campus opportunities are wonderful, but she’s thrilled to also be part of local community theater.

Flynn began her college career at UW-Milwaukee at Washington County, located in her hometown. It was during her two years on that campus that she discovered a passion for community theater, she says, adding that she performed with three different community theater groups during her time there.

“My hometown community theater groups were filled with talented people who provided me with lots of learning opportunities, lead roles and valuable life lessons,” Flynn says. “You don’t always get those kinds of performance opportunities as an underclassman at a bigger university or conservatory. I feel very fortunate to have chosen the path that I did.”

As a student at UW-Eau Claire, Flynn is enjoying the opportunity to again be performing, while also making connections with people in the local community, she says.

Since she’s nearly four hours from her family and hometown friends, those community connections are especially important to her, Flynn says.

“At first, it was difficult to connect to a community that I’ve only gotten to know this past year,” Flynn says of Eau Claire, noting that she didn’t know anyone in the local theater community before she auditioned for the “Mary Poppins” production. “When I saw that ECCT was performing ‘Mary Poppins,’ I knew I had to at least try to audition. My castmates have been so welcoming. Now I feel like I’ve been accepted into a new theater family in Eau Claire.

“I truly have the best of both worlds right now being a student at UW-Eau Claire and performing with ECCT.”

The opportunities she’s finding in Eau Claire are enhancing her college experience, she says.

“No matter how hard school was that day, what personal problems I might have or if I’m just plain exhausted, knowing I get to spend three hours every day shaping and playing Mary Poppins changes everything,” Flynn says. “This going to go down as a highlight of my year, for sure.”

ECCT will present “Mary Poppins” March 6-8 at Pablo Center at the Confluence in downtown Eau Claire.

Flynn, who will graduate in December, soon will be auditioning again, but this time for graduate school. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in music in vocal performance.

“I would love to keep performing as part of my future, but I also am finding a love for teaching private voice and keeping my piano skills alive,” Flynn says. “I would love to find myself on a college voice faculty someday.”

She is confident that her many experiences as a Blugold will help her achieve her goals, Flynn says.

After all, as Mary Poppins would say, “Everything is possible, even the impossible.”

Photo caption: Blugold Kathryn Flynn is playing Mary Poppins in a community production.