A Jolly Holiday: Mary Poppins
Opens at the New Amsterdam Nov. 16

By Andrew Gans
Playbill
16 Nov 2006


Ashley Brown in Mary Poppins.
photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley Brown, recently seen on Broadway as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, stars in the title role of the new Disney-Cameron Mackintosh musical Mary Poppins, about a magical flying nanny who forever changes the lives of a family named Banks.

A sensation in London, the new musical began previews at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre Oct. 14. Brown, who stars in the role immortalized on screen by Academy Award winner Julie Andrews, plays opposite Gavin Lee as Bert, a role he created for the London production.
A few technical glitches have been reported during previews of the Broadway musical. The most notable occurred Oct. 25 when the mechanized Banks house set came to a halt about ten minutes into Act Two. Thomas Schumacher, head of Disney's theatrical division, announced a brief intermission so the problem could be explored, but the remainder of the performance was eventually canceled. No other performances have been canceled.

The New York company also boasts Daniel Jenkins as Mr. Banks and Rebecca Luker as Mrs. Banks with Jane Carr (Mrs. Brill), Mark Price (Robertson Ay), Cass Morgan (Bird Woman), Ruth Gottschall (Miss Andrew, Queen Victoria, Miss Smythe) and Michael McCarty (Admiral Boom, Bank Chairman). Katherine Doherty, Kathryn Faughnan and Delaney Moro alternate in the role of Jane Banks, while Matthew Gumley, Henry Hodges and Alexander Scheitinger alternate in the role of Michael Banks.
Richard Eyre directs Mary Poppins, which is based on P.L. Travers' original stories and the 1964 Disney film. The musical features choreography and co-direction by Matthew Bourne and 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 recently starred 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.
For more information visit http://disney.go.com/theatre/marypoppins/index.html
Ashley Brown, Katherine Leigh Doherty, Alexander Scheitinger and Gavin Lee
lead the ensemble in Mary Poppins.
photo by Joan Marcus

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