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Published by The Oklahoman – Read original article here.

Originally published on July 5, 2015

Photo - <p>Lindsie VanWinkle who plays the character of Mary Poppins, practices a dance number for Lyric</p> <p>Theatre’s production of “Mary Poppins.” [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman]</p>

Oklahoma native Lindsie VanWinkle brings MARY POPPINS home

Portraying Mary Poppins at Oklahoma City’s Lyric Theatre is dream come true for New York-based actress originally from Oklahoma.

Curled up in a living room in Moore on her summer vacation, a young Lindsie VanWinkle would become entangled in a world of classic musical movies featuring the stars of old Hollywood, such as Fred Astaire and Judy Garland.

It was there where she first was inspired to perform.

After years of performing in musicals and singing on cruise ships, VanWinkle will finally portray what she calls her “white whale role,” one she has wanted for more than eight years.

Mary Poppins.

“Right when I moved to New York, it (“Mary Poppins”) was on Broadway, and it was all I wanted to do,” VanWinkle said. “It’s a role that I’ve been chasing forever.”

After Joe Deer, director of Lyric Theatre’s production of “Mary Poppins,” suggested VanWinkle for the title role, she sent in a video audition and finally received her “white whale role.”

She will portray the magical character in Lyric’s seven performances beginning Tuesday.

“She can bring the essence of Mary Poppins from the movie to the stage, but it’s very much her own performance,” Deer said of VanWinkle. “She projects the kind of charm and sentiment that the role requires.”

Well-traveled road

From the moment she stepped foot in New York City, VanWinkle knew the Big Apple was the place for her. After she grew up in Oklahoma, the fast-paced environment and grand stages of NYC called.

“I went to New York the very first time when I was 18 on a high school trip,” VanWinkle said. “I called my mom and said, ‘I’m not going to come home, this is where I belong.'”

While she did come home, it was only for a short while.

VanWinkle completed high school in Edmond and received a bachelor’s degree, with an emphasis on musical theater, from the University of Central Oklahoma in the early 2000s. From there, VanWinkle sang lead on a cruise ship for two years before moving to New York with her husband and actor Scott Guthrie, also from Oklahoma.

Although she enjoyed singing on cruise ships, VanWinkle’s passion for acting while singing drove her back to the stages of the nation’s musical theaters.

“There’s something about seeing something written on paper, a person written on paper. You get to take that black and white and give it a soul,” VanWinkle said. “It’s not just saying the words. It’s not just singing the notes. It’s giving it meaning and giving it heart and giving them a soul to exist.”

To the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in South Carolina, VanWinkle was Eliza Doolittle in a production of “My Fair Lady.” To the Westchester Broadway Theatre in New York, she was Betty Haynes in “White Christmas.” To the Ocean State Theatre Company in Rhode Island, she was Fantine in “Les Miserables.”

To Lyric Theatre, VanWinkle is Mary Poppins.

Life with Mary Poppins

For VanWinkle, the role of Mary Poppins hit close to home – not just close to her hometown at Lyric Theatre but close to her heart.

“I was very lucky in a way that I have many strong female figures in my life – all have Mary Poppins’ qualities of strength but humility and stern but funny,” VanWinkle said.

“In a way I grew up with a lot of different Mary Poppinses between my mom, my grandparents and Marilyn Govich, who was my vocal teacher and mentor all through college.”

The role models in Van-
Winkle’s life have drawn her to Mary Poppins, because she sees that beyond the overcoat, umbrella and bag, Mary Poppins is a teacher.

“Her biggest lesson that she teaches is if you stop and look around you, you have everything you need,” VanWinkle said.

To play the meaningful and magical role of Mary Poppins at Lyric Theatre is kind of like being on Broadway, VanWinkle said.

“The kid in me, going to see shows at Lyric and always wanting to work there, and then the adult actress in me always wanting to play Mary Poppins – getting to do it all at the same place is really exciting,” she said.