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Westport’s own Newbery tackles NYC theatre scene

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By Tracy Harris

Broadway. The name alone gives performers chills. It’s the pinnacle of live theater across the world, encompassing 40 theaters in Manhattan.

If you’re on Broadway, you’ve made it big.

And that’s where you can find Westport’s Mara Newbery.

Newbery is performing as part of the first Broadway cast of “A Christmas Story — The Musical” through Dec. 30.

“I feel very blessed — this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a toddler,” Newbery said.

A graduate of Louisville’s Youth Performing Arts School, she went on to study in the musical theater program at the University of Michigan. She graduated with a BFA in 2007.

Newbery’s career started here in Oldham County, where she attended Liberty Elementary and North Oldham Middle. At NOMS, she was co-captain of the dance team.

“It’s an advantage to have learned dance early,” she said — many other musical theater hopefuls don’t take dance until college, instead focusing on singing and acting as high schoolers.

She was part of a national championship dance team with 360 Dance in Louisville and started performing with Stage One in fifth grade.

Since graduation, Newbery has toured with several shows, including the first national tour of both “Shrek The Musical” and “A Christmas Story Musical.”

Newbery was one of just a handful of cast members from the touring show who made the cut for the Broadway production of “A Christmas Story Musical.”

Newbery is the show’s dance captain — she teaches all the choreography to every cast member and is responsible for making sure that choreography is performed correctly at every show.

Over time, performers might unconsciously change steps or movements — think of a dance version of the telephone game, where you whisper a phrase through a group of people.

But Newbery has her share of on-stage time, too.

“I’m not in every time — but I fill in any time someone is absent,” she said.

That means she is essentially an understudy for every role in the ensemble. If a performer is injured or ill, Newbery steps into that role.

Newbery is currently auditioning for roles to fill after “A Christmas Story Musical” concludes its holiday season.

“It always takes tons and tons of hard work,” she said — but now she can add Broadway to her resume.