"Step in Time" with "Supercalifragilistic" Mary Poppins!
The magical Broadway musical hits the road
When you hear the name "Mary Poppins," it's impossible not to think "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Jolly Holliday," or the classic tongue twister "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
The iconic magical nanny began in the pages of author P.L. Travers' book. She became famous when she came to life on screen in the classic Disney movie starring Julie Andrews. And now she's at home on stage in the musical Mary Poppins.
The show began on London's West End in 2004 and moved to Broadway in 2006. Now, it's touring around the United States. When Mary Poppins came to my hometown of Costa Mesa, California, I spoke with star Nicolas Dromard and the kids in the cast about performing in the show.
Dromard plays Bert, the role originated in the film by Dick Van Dyke. But in the musical, Dromard sets his Bert apart by bringing a little something of his own to the happy-go-lucky chimney sweep.
"Our director is really fantastic, he wants us to bring ourselves to the character, not the copy that Dick Van Dyke or whoever else did the role before," Dromard told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. "We're all able to bring our own little quirks of our own personality. I really love bringing myself to the role.
"I'm still true to Bert, the jack of all trades, the narrator throughout the show," Dromard adds. "But I'm also able to bring this little goofiness that I have in real life to my role. I'm a dork and a goofball."
Dromard performed in Mary Poppins on Broadway, and going on tour is a different experience.
"In New York on Broadway, you do the same show in the same theater for six months at a time. You get to really know the theater, you know the people there," said Dromard. "But on tour, the challenge is you go into a new theater every three or four weeks, and adapt to our surroundings, change our routines to accommodate the theater."
When asked about the challenges of going on tour, the four youngest stars of the show — who are double cast in the roles of Jane and Michael Banks — talked about moving from city to city and traveling without family.
"During the school year, I have to travel with friends of the family because my dad's a teacher and my mom's a lawyer. It's kind of hard, not being with my family all the time," reflected 13-year-old Marissa Smoker (Jane Banks) who started acting since nine months old.
When not performing or rehearsing on the road, 12-year-old Camille Mancuso (Jane Banks) visits museums and monuments in every city.
"Every day it is something different. You get an education that you won't get anywhere else," said Mancuso. "At school you learn about these places, but on tour, you get to visit them. It's just a really great experience."
One timeless dance number is "Step in Time," where Bert tap dances on the ceiling of the theater. Dromard said it's his favorite part of the show.
"I'm not afraid of heights, and everything is very safe. You walk up the wall, you tap dance upside down, and the next thing you know, you're coming back down. It's just an everyday routine. Eight times a week, I can do it in my sleep," he joked.
As for 10-year-old Tyler Merna (Michael Banks), his favorite number is "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
"It's just so high-energy, and even before I got cast it was my favorite song. It's so much fun to get to do it," explained Merna. "Mary Poppins and Bert take us on an adventure, and it's great to do that, night after night."
The cast all agreed that the best part of performing in Mary Poppins is being together.
"We're a family on tour. That's the wonderful thing," said Dromard. "We become this close-knit family. Everybody supports each other and helps each other up because that's what we are. Every month we go to a new city and we only have each other."
Check out the Mary Poppins website to find out if the musical will fly into your town!
Kid Reporter Cassandra Hsiao reviews the Mary Poppins musical on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog!
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