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Shaking Up Broadway

Disney Channel star Kenton Duty kicks up his heels in Broadway’s Mary Poppins

September 16, 2011
DONNA SVENNEVIK—DISNEY CHANNEL

Kenton Duty, in costume as a chimney sweep, spoke to TFK Kid Reporter Sahil Abbi about his big Broadway debut.

Kenton Duty is known for his energetic dance moves as Gunther Hessenheffer on Disney Channel’s hit show Shake It Up. This summer, Kenton got to play a new role. On August 4, the 16-year-old actor showed off his tap skills on Broadway. He played a chimney sweep in the musical Mary Poppins, in New York City. The special performance was in honor of the Broadway show's fifth anniversary, coming up in November.

Kenton is the first Disney Channel star to appear in a Disney Broadway production. TFK had the opportunity to observe the show’s rehearsal, to meet the cast backstage and to watch Kenton in action during the live performance.

What’s Poppin’?

Whether or not you “believe in the magic,” as the tagline suggests, Mary Poppins on Broadway is a show that’s guaranteed to amaze. For those who don’t know the tale, the story follows Jane and Michael Banks. The siblings have scared away so many nannies that their parents think hiring Miss Andrew, the gruff nanny who raised Mr. Banks, is the only option left.

Kenton Duty learns a tap routine during rehearsals for his role in Broadway's Mary Poppins.
DONNA SVENNEVIK—DISNEY CHANNEL
Kenton Duty learns a tap routine during rehearsals for his role in Broadway's Mary Poppins.

But the children have another idea. They write an advertisement for the perfect caretaker. Within moments of showing the ad to their strict father—who ignores it—Mary Poppins arrives.

The children go along with their new nanny on magical adventures, hopping into paintings and dancing on rooftops. (The most memorable moment for me was when they visited the conversation shop. It’s there that they learn the famous word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.)

They also meet interesting characters, including Bert, Mary’s sweetheart. Bert has been everything from an artist to a chimney sweep. Kenton says he’d like to play him someday: “He’s just such a fun, memorable character.”

Sweep It Up

Then, of course, there are the chimney sweeps. As they appeared on the rooftop on stage, kids gasped as they recognized Kenton. Performing the song-and-dance number “Step In Time,” Kenton tap-danced, laughed and banged brushes with the other sweeps. “I’d never tapped before now, and I just learned the routine [at rehearsal],” Kenton revealed. “All of the other chimney sweeps helped me out with my routine. We were all just running around the stage and having a ball.”

You wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was Kenton’s first tap experience. The actor also says that he’d never danced before Shake It Up. Now, fans have come to expect fun dance numbers from the actor. Season 2 of Shake It Up premieres on September 18, and, Kenton promises, “there’s a dance that will 'glow' your mind.”


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