Mary Poppins in Elkader First-ever audition results in big role

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Mary Poppins in Elkader
Meghan Birdnow will make her Elkader Opera House debut as Mrs. Banks in the production, Mary Poppins.

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

From date night to opening night—that sums up Meghan Birdnow’s history with the Elkader Opera House.
The Monona wife and mother discovered the Opera House two years ago on a date with her husband, Justin.  When the curtain goes up on the fall production, Mary Poppins, you’ll find Meghan not in the seats but on the stage masterfully filling the role of Mrs. Banks.

“I started by following their (Facebook) page and it sparked an old flame, which I had laid aside for many, many years to raise my family and make a living,” Meghan said. “I decided the time had come to share my love for music and acting with my three growing daughters.”

Still, auditioning was a last-minute decision for Meghan and on equally short notice she asked her oldest daughter Evelyn, 8, to accompany her and possibly audition for a role.
“It was absolutely heartwarming to watch her come alive from behind her script,” Meghan said. “There’s something so magical about that feeling, when you watch your own child light up like that. It was if I were living it myself all over again.”
“Evelyn was meant for the stage,” Meghan continued. “I absolutely love watching her gleaming smile when ‘she gets it right.’”

Evelyn is the cast’s “shortest little chimney sweep.” In addition to her mom, who’ll be watching her with pride from behind the stage, she’ll be cheered on by her dad and two sisters, Mackenzie, 7, and Claire, 4.
Meghan is a Jesup native. She and her family have lived in Monona for two years. She has a nursing degree and has worked as nurse. She now works in food service at McGregor Middle School, a career shift that lets her spend more time with her family. The commitment to kids, husband and home is something she see reflected in her stage character.

“Mrs. Banks is a loving mother, trying to find her way but knowing all along she was truly meant to be what she does best—be a loving mother,” Meghan said. “In so many ways, she tries to please everyone else and loses who she really is meant to be. I see that in my own life. I have spent many years working both in my home and in nursing, and now have made a big change in my own career to allow me to be exactly who I am meant to be—a mother and loving wife to my family. It’s not about money, or titles. It’s about your service, how you treat others, how you affect those around you.”

Though actors and crew aren’t giving away any secrets, it’s rumored that the show is filled with special effects and magical moments—so many that Meghan can’t select a favorite one. She does have a favorite character: Bert, the chimney sweep.

When Mary Poppins closes, it will represent the end of rehearsals that started in mid-July. Despite the challenging practices and the long nights, Meghan plans to continue her involvement with the Opera House Players.
“This will not be the last time Evelyn or I am on the stage at the Elkader Opera House,” Meghan said, emphatically. “Having this happen for the two of us is such a dream come true for me. It’s bringing me so much pride and joy.”
Mary Poppins opens October 5 at 7:30 p.m. Evening shows are also scheduled October 6, 12 and 13, and there are 2 p.m. matinees on October 7, 11 and 14. Tickets can be purchased at Clayton Drug (563-245-2530) in downtown Elkader or mail the Opera House (


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