There are certain stories that when they are mentioned bring a sparkle to both the young and the young at heart. One of those, I believe, is the timeless P.L. Travers classic, Mary Poppins. Whether you are talking about the original book, the classic Disney movie or the new theatrical production, Mary Poppins has truly lived up to her reputation - "practically perfect in every way." Carrying the baton, or rather, the parrot-handled umbrella when the show returns to Atlanta is Maddy Trumble and I had the pleasure of chatting with her and learning about her experience with the show. Here's a hint, it can be summed up in one word - supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Maddy, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I am excited to hear about the show and I know our readers will be too. We are really looking forward to Mary Poppins return to Atlanta!
Let's start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career. Specifically, how did you get into the theatre business?
Well, I'm from Berkeley, California and my dad was an actor, kind of. My dad is deaf and he kind of fell into acting. They needed a deaf man who had really good speech, which is really hard to find, for Children of a Lesser God on Broadway. So he kind of fell into that and was on Broadway for a few years. Me and my brother and sister all do theatre and did it from the time we were really little. I think we were destined to be performers. We never really did anything else growing up and living in the Bay Area there was a lot of theatre to do. I did my first show when I was seven and I never really stopped. I didn't really train, but did some community theatre and some regional theatre. Then college came and I only auditioned for musical theatre programs. I went to the University of Michigan for four years and got my degree. I got my Mary Poppins audition for the first national tour from my senior showcase, which is a show the graduating seniors put on for casting directors and agents. After a second audition a few months later, I was cast as the Mary understudy on the tour. That was 2011 and I understudied the role from August to February, moved to New York and did Newsies on Broadway for a couple months. And then they called me when they needed a new Mary. This company is really great about moving up understudies. Pretty much all the leads on Broadway and the tour for the last few years were understudies first.
And what's it like to be back on the road but this time as Mary?
It's funny, Mary Poppins wasn't really on my radar. I never really thought about it being something I could do. In college I was always cast as older people - mothers and grandmothers, and people would say "you are so mature for your age!". I had this thought in my head that I wouldn't really work until I was older. So I had no idea that this would happen or that I would get to play a leading part so early on. It has all happened so fast. It's pretty cool!
And coming off of Newsies, and the Mary Poppins tour before that, you could say Disney has been really good to you! What do you think it is about Disney shows, specifically on stage that have been such a popular ticket?
I think they just know how to do theatre. One of the cool things about Disney shows that has always been true, is that they don't compromise the casting trying to insert stars, make exceptions, etc. Disney has never had to do that. For Newsies I was in the opening night cast and there were 14 or 15 people making their Broadway debuts in that show. Disney is also known for theatrical magic and for finding really creative people to work on their shows. I really think the shows are better for it.
I am curious about the difficulty of playing a character that is so well known and that was so memorably played by Julie Andrews? Was that a challenge?
I watched the movie so much growing up and watched again when I got the part, and our show is very different. There's new music, new characters, and new dialogue. I think the character is very different too. People are so surprised at how stern Mary Poppins is in this production. It's a different character and that definitely helps. If I was doing it word for word in the same costumes, I would definitely be concerned with the comparison. But our show is really a different Mary Poppins. But on the other hand, it is also so great to have such a great role model in an iconic actress like Julie Andrews - she is someone I trust and admire so much. But I do have to borrow from her, it's inevitable. But that hasn't made me nervous but has been more of an inspiration.