My Fair Lady Kelly Opts for Mary Poppins Title RoleDate: 28 January 2004
As previously tipped (See The Goss, 21 Nov 2003 & Features, 12 Jan 2004), Laura Michelle Kelly will follow in the footsteps of Julie Andrews to take the title role of the magical nanny in Mary Poppins.
The £8 million stage adaptation of the movie musical classic, co-produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Disney Theatrical Productions, opens first at the Bristol Hippodrome, where it runs from 28 September to 6 November 2004 (previews from 15 September) before transferring to the West End's Prince Edward Theatre, opening on 15 December 2004, 40 years after the premiere of the film (See News, 11 Nov & 20 Oct 2003).
With no formal training, the 22-year-old Kelly left school at 16 to join the cast of Disney’s Beauty in the Beast before progressing to other West End roles in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind, Les Miserables, Mamma Mia! and, last year, Mackintosh’s production of My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, where she won critical acclaim as the third and final Eliza Doolittle. She is now about to make her Broadway debut in a revival of The Fiddler on the Roof.
Kelly was reportedly the subject of a fierce tug of war between Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber, who both wanted her to appear in their next big musical (See The Goss, 17 Nov 2003). She opted for Mary Poppins over Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, which opens at the West End’s Palace Theatre in September.
Commenting on the casting today, Mackintosh and Disney’s Thomas Schumacher said: “When we started discussing the casting of Mary Poppins for the stage, we dreamt of finding an actress who was on the brink of stardom, but not yet associated by the public with a particular role, and would be in her mid-twenties as envisaged by Pamela Travers. Julie Andrews was 27 when she so memorably created Mary in the film. We are thrilled that Laura Michelle Kelly, who will be 23 when Mary Poppins opens in London, has won the part … and we feel sure that she will bring her own unique quality to this extraordinary and much-loved role.”
Kelly added: “I am absolutely thrilled at the opportunity that I have been given by Cameron and Tom. This is truly the role of a lifetime.”
The new stage Mary Poppins is based on the stories of PL (Pamela) Travers and Walt Disney's 1964 Oscar-winning film, which starred Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews as London chimneysweep Bert and the eponymous magical nanny of the title. No casting has yet been confirmed.
The creative team is led by former NT artistic director Richard Eyre, with co-direction and choreography by Matthew Bourne and additional choreography by Stephen Mear. The production is designed by Bob Crowley, with lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by Andrew Bruce and Nick Lidster, and orchestrations by William David Brohn.
Mary Poppins will feature many of the songs from the Sherman Brothers' Oscar-winning film score - which included "Chim Chim Cher-ee", "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" - as well as new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Honk!, Peter Pan). The stage production has been created, in collaboration with Mackintosh, by book writer Julian Fellowes (who won an Oscar for his Gosford Park screenplay).
No further casting has yet been announced.
- by Terri Paddock