Ashley Brown to Star in Broadway Mary Poppins; Gavin Lee Is Bert

News   Ashley Brown to Star in Broadway Mary Poppins; Gavin Lee Is Bert
Ashley Brown, the current Belle of Beauty and the Beast, has landed the title role in the forthcoming Broadway musical Mary Poppins.

Ashley Brown
Ashley Brown Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Gavin Lee will play opposite Brown as Bert, the role Lee created for the West End production of the musical and is still playing at London's Prince Edward Theatre. Additional casting will be announced shortly.

Mary Poppins is scheduled to begin performances Oct. 14 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, current home to The Lion King. The musical — a co-production between Disney Theatricals and Cameron Mackintosh — will officially open Nov. 16.

In a statement, producers Mackintosh and Thomas Schumacher said, "After the phenomenal success of Mary Poppins in London, we were excited to cast the roles of Mary and Bert for Broadway. The moment Ashley Brown auditioned for us and members of our creative team, we knew we had found our Mary Poppins. Gavin Lee, who continues to amaze audiences at the Prince Edward Theatre in London, has embodied Bert with such irrepressible charm and warmth that we knew he must perform the role on Broadway. We are delighted that Ashley and Gavin will bring these two legendary characters to life at the New Amsterdam Theatre.”

Actress Brown said, “Playing Mary Poppins on Broadway is a dream come true. As a little girl in Florida, I always imagined creating a role in a Broadway show. Now to have Cameron and Tom entrust me with this role is such an honor. I can hardly wait to start.” And, actor Lee added, "I am thrilled to be making my Broadway debut in a role that has given me such pleasure every night in London. Playing Bert has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I know that American audiences will embrace this magical show just as British audiences have.”

Richard Eyre will direct Mary Poppins, which will feature choreography and co-direction by Matthew Bourne. The musical boasts original songs from the film — with music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman — as well as new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Julian Fellowes wrote the book. The musical also features set and costume design by Bob Crowley, co-choreography by Stephen Mear, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce and Steve C. Kennedy, orchestrations by William David Brohn, and musical supervision by David Caddick.

Ashley Brown is currently starring as Belle in the Broadway company of Beauty and the Beast, and she was also part of the cast of the tour of Disney's On the Record. Brown received her BFA in musical theatre from Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. She has appeared in productions of Candide, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Violet, Sweeney Todd, Meet Me in St. Louis, Guys and Dolls, Side by Side by Sondheim and Crazy for You. Brown, who can be heard on the new cast recording for On the Record, is also the recipient of the Laurie Beechman Award.

Gavin Lee created the role of Bert for the London production of Mary Poppins, receiving an Olivier Award nomination for his performance. His London theatre credits also include Peggy Sue Got Married, Contact, Oklahoma!, Saturday Night, Crazy for You and Me and My Girl. He was also seen in the films "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Beyond the Sea." Mary Poppins will mark his Broadway debut.

Mary Poppins will play Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8 PM, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets are priced $20-$110.

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