For everything that Camille Mancuso does precociously well at the age of 11 - singing and acting in touring productions of Broadway musicals, for example - it's comforting to know the Blacklick native can get in trouble like any other 11-year-old. As a result, she now knows how to knit.
"The dresser in Des Moines taught us how," said Camille, who is touring the country in a production of "Mary Poppins" that comes to the Ohio Theatre from April 20 to May 8. "We were getting a little hectic backstage, so she decided to teach us something that would be nice and calming."
Camille shares the role of Jane Banks with another girl, and two boys share the role of their brother Michael in the iconic musical, and the foursome sometimes are rambunctious, she said. So the woman who supervised their costume changes at the Iowa stop on their tour sat the kids down and taught them how to knit.
Since joining the tour last August, Camille has been to cities like Charlotte, Omaha and Washington, D.C., but always with either her mom, Christina, or her dad, Anthony, accompanying her. Usually it's her mom because Mr. Mancuso has a law practice to run.
The family also times their work and travel schedules to get the whole clan - which includes Vincent, 6, and Corinne, 8 - together on the road with Camille. Her contract runs until the end of September.
"It can get a little crazy when you have five people crammed in a room together," Camille said, during a recent break at home from her touring. But she has developed a fondness, she confessed, for "the hotels that have pools."
It's not the life that the Mancuso parents expected when their oldest child first belted out a number from "Annie" in a restaurant at age 3 - "I think they gave her a free dessert because everyone stood up and applauded," Mrs. Mancuso recalled. But, in the last three years, it has become their version of normal.
"Mary Poppins" is Camille's fourth national touring production, after a start at home that included WeJoySing classes, then shows with Imaginating Dramatics, Columbus Children's Theatre, the Davis Performing Arts Center and the Pleasure Guild.
"We try not to make it all about her," Mrs. Mancuso said, adding that she's finding ways to make the traveling a part of all her children's educations. Camille is technically home-schooled now, while the younger two attends Gahanna schools at home.
"We try to make it more about the experience of the city," Mrs. Mancuso said. "I loved San Antonio and Philadelphia, and in Appleton, Wisconsin, the people were so nice."
Camille said her favorite city so far has been Washington, D.C.
"Every single Monday is an off day," Camille said, "so that's when we do field trips. We got to stay in Washington, D.C., for a really long time, and I love every single one of the museums because the artifacts are so amazing."
She also gave two big thumbs up to the Discovery Museum in Charlotte and the Children's Museum in Indianapolis.
The toughest part of life on the road, Camille said, is "sometimes you forget what city you're in and the days of the week get all smashed together." But she is enjoying the experience enough to keep going.
"I'd love to be on Broadway and I definitely see myself still doing this in the future," Camille said. "The best part is getting to meet people all across the country because then sometimes you go back to a city and you meet them again, and you say, 'Oh! I remember her!' "
Her mother, who admirably didn't stick around to monitor her daughter during the interview, said the family's life has been a whirlwind but it has also been rewarding to see Camille flourish.
"Saturate them with opportunities and be supportive," Mrs. Mancuso said, when asked to offer advice to other parents. "They'll find their niche and it will be the things they don't ever want to quit."
To find out when Camille is performing in "Mary Poppins" at the Ohio Theatre, visit her website at camillemancuso.com