HHS junior Cleo Graham received the kind of news last week that would put anybody on edge.


Graham, the understudy to “Mary Poppins” lead actress Carlye Morris, learned that Morris would not be able to do the Wednesday afternoon (April 3) school performance because of illness, and she would have to fill the star role of Mary Poppins.


“Once they told me I was doing that, like, I had to get my act together and I only had the weekend to do that,” Graham recalled.


And get her act together she did. By all accounts, she did a wonderful job filling in for Morris, a senior with significant theatre experience.


“I put so much work into being an understudy and it actually paid off,” Graham told The Ville News Thursday.


Understudy is a tough job. The actor or actress must be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Oftentimes, it is a lot of work without much reward.


“My expectation for an understudy is that they’re ready, if something happens, to go on immediately,” said theatre arts teacher Carole Ann Everson.


“During rehearsals, Cleo would stand behind Carlye and she would mouth the words and sing the songs and do the dance moves,” Everson recalled.


Morris is on the mend and expected to return as Mary Poppins in tonight’s (April 5) public performance at 7. She’s also in the Sunday afternoon show at 2:30.


Graham will play the lead in the Saturday evening performance, also at 7.


The two actresses have been a source of encouragement to each other.


“They had a really and still do have a really good relationship and want each other to succeed,” Everson said. “Carlye will be there to encourage her, just like Cleo is encouraging Carlye. They’re very good friends.”

Story by Many Pirtle and Ava Heeren


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