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The Aquilian

The 26 women behind the Gonzaga Dramatic Association’s “Mary Poppins”

Maggie Campoine ’26 goes into a singoff with Claire Norris ’26 in this year’s GDA production of “Mary Poppins.”

For 200 years, Gonzaga has been home to boys in which it opens to turn into “men for others.” However, inside its walls, Gonzaga has also been a very important place for many young women and their journeys— specifically in the Gonzaga Dramatic Association (GDA) specifically. Ms. Kate Griffith, co-director of GDA productions, shares how she feels that the GDA and theater’s important to all.

“I believe the arts benefit all genders,” Ms. Griffith said. “For teenagers especially, it helps them grow in confidence and self-esteem. Theater allows them to express themselves in ways that they can’t do in an academic setting, especially through design, technical skills, emotional intelligence, communication skills and physical awareness.”

The choice of “Mary Poppins” as the spring musical initially raised questions: Why would an all-boys school opt for a play with a female lead? However, the GDA is not just a Gonzaga organization; it is an organization that connects Gonzaga students with other students from across the DMV; current members come from schools like Georgetown Visitation, Washington Latin, Templeton Academy and Bishop Ireton. 

“During my time in the GDA,” JP Howard ‘24 said, “I have seen members change, both boys and girls. While we may be at an all-boys school, these women really make the show amazing.”

Co-director Mr. Andrew Curtin ‘01 was an actor during his time at Gonzaga and is now back on Eye Street as a teacher and leader in the GDA.

“When I was at Gonzaga,” Mr. Curtin said, “it was your typical high school production that had its flaws, but everyone still loved it. But now, the GDA has grown in so many ways, specifically in people. During my time, we did not get a lot of girls from schools and were a very male-dominated group. Currently, I am glad to say that we have a great balance of boys and girls who all love acting on stage and having fun with each other.”

Even with such growth, how did “Mary Poppins” get selected instead of a show with a bigger male lead? Well, one actress has really changed how some people view the GDA: Maggie Campione, Visitation Class of ‘26 and sister to Joe Campione ‘24. Maggie has been with the GDA for about 15 months, but she has already left such an impact on it. After getting the lead role as Wednesday Addams in last spring’s production of “The Addams Family,” Maggie loved the GDA so much, she chose to come back.

“The GDA is such a special place,” she said. “The people I meet here, both boys and girls, really make me feel like this is where I belong because of the supportive environment that they give me. It has just been so great, and there is still so much fun to be had.”

Visitation girls are not the only female members of the GDA. Claire Norris is a sophomore student at Templeton Academy and has had a wonderful experience in her first one and a half years with the GDA.

“Being the only person from my school and not knowing anyone was a little scary at first,” Norris said, “but that soon went away when I got to know everyone here. All of the people here are extremely supportive and I have made some amazing friends with girls and boys that I never would have met without the GDA. I will always link my high school experience with the one I had with the GDA.”

Come see all these talented women and their co-stars in “Mary Poppins” on either Friday, March 22 or Saturday, March 23. Tickets can be purchased here.

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