Roosevelt alumni star in production of “Mary Poppins”

By Adam Schalke

Staff Reporter

Roosevelt alumni

Cast of “Mary Poppins” during a performance at Stage 773. Photo Courtesy of David Rosenberg and Night Blue Performing Arts Company. 

Several former Roosevelt students appeared in an Off-Broadway production of “Mary Poppins” earlier this month.

The productio was held at Stage 773, a small venue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, and was based in part on the classic Disney film with some minor deviances from the original movie.

The production featured three Roosevelt alumni, all graduating from the university in different years and all coming from different walks of life.

Sierra Naomi graduated from Roosevelt with her bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 2012, concentrating in musical theater and played the role of the bird woman in the production.  

Naomi described her career as a sort of balancing act.

“My schedule totally varies, it can be a little messy,” she said. “During audition season, things can get particularly hectic, with rehearsals, auditions, tech commitments everywhere. It’s definitely a sort of balancing act.”

Despite the packed schedule, Naomi said that she has loved the experiences she has had so far, and advised students in her former position to not take their education for granted.

“Enjoy the journey at Roosevelt and enjoy the moment. It’s important to appreciate learning,” she said.

Another “Poppins” cast member, Roosevelt alumnus and performer Joseph Smith, described the importance of variety in his life.

Smith, who plays the patriarchal George Banks in the play, graduated from Roosevelt in 1994, but unlike Naomi, he didn’t graduate with a BFA, but with a paralegal certificate instead.

Performance has always been an interest and hobby of his, so he pursued that along with his professional studies. In the face of his untraditional route to performing, Smith says he enjoys balancing his day job as a legal assistant with performing in theater and the variety it offers him.

“These careers balance themselves, and that is very rewarding for me,” he explained.

When asked if he had any advice he wished to give any students at Roosevelt who are stuck between two or more ideal careers, Smith advised to be adventurous in one’s other interests.

“Definitely don’t be afraid to explore your other talents,” he said. “My advice would be to always just go for it. Don’t be afraid to seek out a varied life. I think that’s very important.”

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