The year 2019 may just be one Oakdale High School graduate Grace Buzzini will remember for a long time.
While some might attribute that to her high school graduation in May or the start of her next chapter as a freshman this fall at American Musical Dramatic Academy, not so.
Buzzini has been cast as Mary Poppins. The OHS grad will take to the stage this Friday, Aug. 2 in the lead role of the production staged by Turlock Youth Performing Arts. The production will be staged at Turlock Community Theater, 1574 E. Canal Drive, Turlock. Show times are Friday, Aug. 2 and Saturday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee show on Sunday, Aug. 4.
“I learned about it the day of auditions,” Buzzini said, adding that former director and OHS Drama teacher Bryan Mills informed her of the audition.
“I used to watch it continuously as a child,” she shared of her love for Mary Poppins. “When I was little, I used to watch Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. They were my two go-to’s.”
Earlier this year, Buzzini owned the stage of the OHS Theater in the lead role of Maria in the school spring production of Sound of Music. Choosing between which role she’s enjoyed the most is not possible.
“It was so great,” she said of her role as Maria. “The kids were awesome.”
Being her final summer before leaving for college, the actress shared taking on an out of town production was not in her plans. Her focus instead was on spending quality time with friends though summer.
“It’s a dream role and seeing my name next to it, that was … I never thought I would see that,” Buzzini stated of first seeing her name posted as the lead of Mary Poppins. “It’s pretty cool.”
Buzzini first found her love for the stage at the age of seven, performing in a Hutton’s Hamlet summer production. Eleven years later she’s still committed to the summer theater program both as an actress, as well as an alumni helper.
“We only rehearsed Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the whole summer and then weekly as it got close,” Buzzini shared of Mary Poppins, noting she also had commitments to Hutton’s Hamlet so the schedule made it possible.
Her continued education will begin this October at AMDA, where she will be an acting major.
“I’m going to be studying acting. I’m an acting major,” she stated. “It’s a two year, nine month program, but it’s still get your BFA. You still get your Bachelors.”
It’s the next logical step for the OHS alum.
“I knew that I was going to be acting. I definitely thought I would be more musical theater based,” she stated of career aspirations, “but now I’m feeling like I might want to do film. I’ve never done film so I want to try it at least.”
Since taking to the stage the first time at the age of seven, Buzzini shared she has continued acting in summer theater as well as OHS productions ever since. The stage was undoubtedly where she felt most at home.
“I’m addicted to stage lights,” she shared. “I love the feeling of stage lights on me. It’s kind of weird, but I love playing pretend. I love being somebody else, because Grace is scared of talking in front of people. But when she’s Maria, I don’t know, I turn into somebody else and the sentences come easier.”
Buzzini confessed, however, that she does experience a case of the jitters before going on stage. But seeing the faces in the audience and their responses are her oxygen as she breathes in the stage life.
“I want to see their reactions to what I’m doing because it’s all for them,” she said. “It’s a performance for them so I want to make sure they’re entertained.”
Now in the role of her childhood dream character she describes it all as a bit surreal, likening it to going to Disneyland and seeing your favorite princess.
“Why is she your favorite?” she questioned of a favorite princess. “Because you admire how she looks, who she is, what she does. When you get to become that person that’s kind of cool. It’s kind of indescribable.”
To purchase tickets for the weekend production of Mary Poppins, text “TYPA Tickets” to 209-380-5507 or purchase at the door.
“I’m excited for people to hear this cast. It is gorgeous sounding,” Buzzini said. “I’ve never worked with a kid cast, of people my age, that has sounded this good.”