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A Supercalifragilistic Evening at the Boys and Girls Club

BURLINGTON Childrens theatre is booming in Vermont, as the audience that gathered on Friday night at the Boys and Girls Club in Burlington for an endearing production of Mary Poppins witnessed. The show was made possible thanks to a $5,000 grant that the Club received from the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Family Foundation, and marked the first time that the Boys and Girls Club had put on a performance of this magnitude. The leading roles were performed by students of Burlington High School and Edmunds Middle School, while students of H.O. Wheeler Elementary filled in the chorus lines as animals and chimney sweeps. Directed by Russell Smith of the Very Merry Theatre, the show was a joint production of the Very Merry Theatre, the Boys and Girls Club and the Burlington School District. The coordination between the Very Merry Theatre company and the Boys and Girls Club began last summer when the groups teamed up to produce a celebration of performing arts known the Wig-Wag Festival in Roosevelt Park, which drew hundreds of kids for a day of short performances and theatre games. The Very Merry Theatre has been an active presence on the Vermont theatre scene for 7 years, but has just recently attempted to expand their reach to lower-income children. Now, the Very Merry Theatre is producing shows and running camps for kids at the King Street Center, the Sara Holbrook Center, and the Boys and Girls Club. The performing arts are so great for kids, said Don Wright, the Executive Director of Very Merry Theatre. It really helps them develop self-confidence. Although the show was held at the Boys and Girls Club, the chorus lines practiced all semester long in the H.O. Wheeler gymnasium as part of the H.O. Wheeler After-School Enrichment Program. The Enrichment Program is a joint venture of the Burlington School District and the Boys and Girls Club, serving K-5 students five days per week. This project is all about community togetherness, and bringing opportunities to kids who might not otherwise have them, said Karen Persons, Director of After-School Programs at H.O. Wheeler. Mary Poppins is just the tip of the iceberg, hopes Shannon Dixon, Programs Director at the Boys and Girls Club. The club is already looking for new funding to produce more feature-length shows in the future, she said.

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