It has been confirmed that Laura Michelle Kelly, who plays Hodel in the current Broadway revival of Fiddler On the Roof, will play the beloved nanny — the role originated on screen by Julie Andrews — in the musical, which begins performances at London's Prince Edward Theatre Dec. 15. Before it hits London, however, Mary Poppins will have an out-of-town tryout at the Bristol Hippodrome.
Previews begin Sept. 15 at the Hippodrome with an official opening set for Sept. 18. The musical's limited engagement will end Nov. 6; tickets go on sale Feb. 16, 2004.
Laura Michelle Kelly made her London stage debut at 16 in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and she recently co-starred in Mackintosh's West End revival of My Fair Lady. Mackintosh and Disney Theatricals' Thomas Schumacher said in a statement, "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 having successfully played the title roles in our productions of My Fair Lady and Beauty and the Beast, and we feel sure that she will bring her own unique quality to this extraordinary and much loved role."
Actress Kelly spoke with Variety about the casting and admitted that she had seen the "Poppins" film when she was a child. "And I won't see it again until I've finished the Mary Poppins run. I don't want to pick up any Julie Andrews-isms." The musical is expected to arrive on Broadway sometime during the 2005-06 season.
Tickets for the West End run will be available to the general public on Feb. 29, 2004, by calling 011 44 20 7447-5458. Mary Poppins will feature direction by Sir Richard Eyre, choreography by Matthew Bourne, design by Bob Crowley, a book by Academy Award winner Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”) and additional tunes (supplementing the original film score by Robert and Richard Sherman) by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Stiles and Drewe are the British songwriting team who composed the score for the Olivier Award winning musical Honk!.
The beloved 1964 Disney film "Mary Poppins" starred Julie Andrews in the title role opposite the Bert of Dick Van Dyke. Directed by Robert Stevenson, the movie boasted a score by the Sherman brothers (Richard and Robert) and featured such tunes as "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Jolly Holiday," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "Feed the Birds," "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and "Let's Go Fly a Kite." Nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture, the film garnered Oscars for Julie Andrews as well as those for Best Special Visual Effects; Best Film Editing; Best Score; and Best Song ("Chim Chim Cher-ee").