Allie as Mary.jpg

“My favorite show of all time is this one, because ever since I was five, I’ve always dreamed of being Julie Andrews. She’s an amazing person,” says Allie Reninger, 25, who will play Mary Poppins in the groundbreaking UPS for DownS Theater Company/EDGE of Orion production of Mary Poppins Jr., coming this week.

This is Allie’s 18th theatrical role, and the Schaumburg resident and recent graduate of the Harper College Career Skills Institute says of being involved in theater, “It has given me a lot of confidence.”

Allie notes there is something special about acting in an inclusive environment. “My director is really accepting. He couldn’t be more wonderful. And I also feel so lucky to be working with my friends. I want [audiences] to walk away with happiness, love, and joy . . . and to be encouraged to try theater themselves.”

In five years, Allie says, “I would like to live with my friends, and to continue to do theater, and I want to have a business. I’m not sure exactly what, but maybe an art business, like selling art kits for kids.”

In the meantime, Allie is currently job searching. “I would like to work with kids and in theater. I have done childcare at Hoffman Estates High School and I volunteer and KinderCare twice a week. I help the kids with their shapes and colors and table manners, and I also help with putting them down for naps.”

That Allie has continued in child care is a wonder, since her worst inclusion experience happened during a child development class she took in high school. “When I was in high school, there was a teacher in the child care and she was not very encouraging and was not supporting me in the classroom. She didn’t think I could work in child care.”

Since then, Allie has been volunteering at KinderCare for two years, and we loved her response when we asked what she’d like to do to make the world more beautiful: “I would like to help the world see who we are. I would like them to see that we can do anything,” she says, adding, “It’s OK to be different. I love what I do, and I want everybody to be accepted in the world.”

Break a leg this week, Allie! And always keep right on shining!