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Learn to Say “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” at Washington Open Elementary School’s “Mary Poppins”

Washington Open Elementary School’s Drama Program celebrated its 20th year with a musical production for “Disney’s Mary Poppins.” During the Jan. 31 Chelsea Cast dress rehearsal, participating students revived the optimistic spirit of this classic tale of a nanny who touches and changes an affection-deprived family. With two student casts and one parent and staff cast, the show ran from Feb. 1-10 at the Santa Clara High School Performing Arts Center.

During the show, a group of cast members, including the Talking Shop Customers, gathered at Mrs. Corry’s shop and performed the iconic song, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, the song comes with bouncy lyrics, which include the repetitive spelling of this 34-letter word. The song lyrics describe “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” as sounding “atrocious” and “precocious” but also mention that the effect of the word can be “hypnotious.”

During the first act, the uptight George (Nico Fischer) scolded his children for loudly singing to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in their home. But before the curtains came down, a relaxed George cheerfully belted out lyrics of this very song to his colleagues at the bank.

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A few cast members explained the meaning of “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and how they learned to use this 14-syllable word for the show. For example, Zaria Randall-Reed, 10, who played Mary Poppins, recommended listening to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in chunks to learn the spelling.

“Listening to the song a few times, I can memorize the spelling pretty quickly,” Randall-Reed said. “When you don’t know how to explain something, ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ sums it up. In the show, Mary says it can mean what you want it to mean.”

“The word means something exciting and happy to me,” said Rebecca Kunze, 11, who played George’s daughter, Jane. “My sister helped me with learning the spelling of the word.”

“This word brings up feelings of joy and happiness,” said Luke Bohorquez, 11, who played Bert, Mary Poppins’ friend. “It’s easy to spell and it’s easy to say. The school had the word up in big red marker in the cafeteria. [Director Celia Scheuerman] taught us to do the dance and get the word in our minds.”

William Kim, 8, who played George’s son, Michael, talked about the choreography that came with performing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

“There is a different movement for most of the letters when the word is being spelled out,” Kim said. “For example, I jump during ‘X’ and make an ‘X’ with my arms. It’s a word you use every time you don’t know what to say.”

Wendy Guttman, Show Producer, explained what “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” meant to her.

“It means what you need it to mean,” Guttman said. “It means you can bring a group of kids together, teach them to put on a play and make you proud.”

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