SM Northwest student lands spot in Starlight’s ‘Mary Poppins’
Outgoing and articulate are two words one might use to describe Amanda Dulny, who speaks clearly and can hold herself well in a conversation.
But the Shawnee Mission Northwest student, who will be a sophomore this fall, did find herself in a speechless moment last March when she received notification that she had been cast in Starlight Theatre’s production of the Broadway musical “Mary Poppins.”
“It was an amazing feeling to be cast in the show,” Dulny said. “I couldn’t explain it. I was lost for words when I got the email.”
Dulny, who has been dancing and performing since age 2, was cast in the production’s Blue Star All-Star Teen Ensemble, comprised of area teens who participate in Starlight’s Blue Star Awards. Each year, students in the Kansas City metropolitan area are recognized for achievements in their school’s musical theater productions through the Blue Star Awards. In addition, the education program provides students with the opportunity to audition for a Starlight production and, if cast, work alongside professional actors.
That’s the opportunity Dulny got to experience with “Mary Poppins,” which opened July 24 and closed Sunday. She was among an ensemble of five teen actors chosen out of about 100 students who auditioned for the show.
The cast of 34 included several professional Broadway actors, including Analisa Leaming, who played the title role and also performed last summer in Starlight’s production of “The Sound of Music.”
Dulny didn’t have any lines in “Mary Poppins,” but she got to sing, dance, act and basically have the time of her life for the run of the show, she said.
“It’s just so exciting every night,” Dulny said prior to the show’s close. “It’s just a phenomenal experience having all of these professional actors and actresses working with me. And I get to watch them and I grow just from learning how everyone else is acting and such.”
Dulny has been a longtime student at Miller Marley School of Dance and Voice in Overland Park, and she says dancing is as much a part of her day as eating or sleeping.
“I have probably danced from 4:30 to 9:30 (p.m.) every day,” she said. “But I still keep up with my school work and I’m an honor roll student.”
With Miller Marley, Dulny has had the chance to dance throughout the Kansas City area, including at the Kauffman Center. She’s also performed twice with the school’s performing troupe at Disney World, and will be going back for another performance during spring break of this school year.
“It’s really fun. It’s so cool with Miller Marley,” she said. “People will just walk by and people will just watch us, and it’s such a good feeling to have all these new people watching that would never be able to see us if they don’t live in Kansas.”
Dulny found another passion in singing and acting after being cast in Theatre in the Park’s production of “Cinderella,” in the summer before her fourth-grade year. Since then, she has shown off her acting chops at Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park and more.
She also performs with SM Northwest’s theater department and is looking forward to the school’s fall musical, which will be “Into the Woods.”
“I just can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” Dulny said of her dream of being a professional performer one day.
Starlight is certainly one of the largest venues Dulny has performed at, but she said she she didn’t have any trouble with opening night jitters during “Mary Poppins.”
“The first night, I had some nerves right before I went on,” she said. “But once you get on that stage, they all go away, and you’re just so happy to be there.”
Her mom, Jennifer Dulny, is pretty proud of her driven daughter. A lifelong resident of the Kansas City area, Jennifer said she has been going to see shows at Starlight for years, first with her parents and then through the season tickets she’s purchased for the past 20 years.
“Then to see your own child up there performing,” Jennifer Dulny said, “it’s just a special feeling.”