Back from Broadway, Parmenter says she grew as an actress

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Jaynie Parmenter, who played the title role in “Mary Poppins” at Voorheesville this spring, went to Broadway for a week last month, having won Best Actress in the 2017 Proctors High School Musical Theatre Awards.

VOORHEESVILLE — Jaynie Parmenter spent many years in the world of local youth theater but never imagined she would perform on Broadway right after graduating from high school.

Parmenter played the lead role in the Voorheesville high school spring production of”Mary Poppins,”  winning Best Actress at the 2017 Proctors High School Musical Theatre Awards. The competition featured schools from around the Capital Region that invited a panel of judges to review their performances and select the best ones. For their efforts, Voorheesville garnered eight nominations out of 10 categories.

The nominations were announced on May 1 and the awards ceremony was scheduled for May 20. According to Parmenter, those intervening 19 days were an anxious time filled with rehearsals for a brief medley performance at the ceremony as well as her desire to know who else was nominated.

When Parmenter was announced as the winner, she was taken aback with surprise. She wanted to win but didn’t expect to and didn’t even have a speech ready when she walked on stage to accept the award. She did use her time to thank the cast, the director, the musical director, the choreographer, and her family for their support.  

The award qualified Parmenter to represent the Capital Region at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City. Commonly known as the “Jimmy Awards,” the ceremony is named after the late Jimmy Nederlander, a famous Broadway producer. Parmenter and Best Actor winner Patrick Shannon of Queensbury participated in the weeklong session from June 17 to 26, with all their expenses paid.

Parmenter said she wouldn’t trade her week in New York for anything in the world. Despite a “very intense” schedule of learning new musical numbers and rehearsing choreography, Parmenter said her peers displayed commitment to their talents.   

“I think it made me aware of how much other people are invested in theater and love it,” she said. “I also appreciated receiving professional feedback and learning from what I did wrong or did right. I have that and so much more under my belt now.”

Parmenter said it was surreal to stand and perform on a Broadway stage. The event was held in the Minskoff Theater, where “The Lion King” is currently showing. Nederlander died last July, so the ensemble performed a medley of his favorite songs in his honor throughout the first ceremony.

The evening was the culmination of a long theatrical journey for Parmenter, who has acted in a play each year since the fifth grade. She said theater helped her come out of her shell when she was younger, describing herself as “timid” and “quiet.”

Active throughout high school, Parmenter had her second leading role in “Mary Poppins” after last year’s turn as the Witch in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” Parmenter and her co-star, Carl Treiber, who played Bert, the chimney sweep who is friends with Mary Poppins, also expanded their roles beyond the show’s three scheduled performances. In February, the two held a “Tea with Mary” event where they dressed up in character and had tea with local schoolchildren.

The musical also marked Parmenter’s first time acting under Robert Whiteman, a fifth grade teacher at Altamont Elementary School. Parmenter praised Whiteman as a “professional” and “enjoyable” director, adding that he was easy to work with.

Whiteman “wasn’t about winning, he was focused on making people feel welcome in the space,” she said. “We all found something to relate with in the story. We related to [Whiteman’s] aunt, who was very much like Mary. I felt it was my job to do the part justice for him.”  

Parmenter said Voorheesville’s musical next year will be another Disney classic: “Tarzan.” As for Parmenter, she will attend the University of Vermont in the fall, where she plans to study music education and theater arts.


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