Excitement builds as Mary Poppins lands

Early reports from preview performances of Mary Poppins suggest the show will set the Australian theatre world alight.

Early reports from preview performances of Mary Poppins suggest the show will set the Australian theatre world alight.

The major production opens in Melbourne on Thursday night ahead of what is expected to be a long season at the Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Mary Poppins features a stunning all-star cast, headed by Verity Hunt-Ballard, who after a nationwide search was handed the role of Mary earlier this year. It is a defining moment in her young career, which has included a stint in the Melbourne run of Jersey Boys.

The show also stars Matt Lee, Philip Quast, Marina Prior, Debra Byrne, Judi Connelli, David Henry and Sally-Anne Upton.

The rest of the cast is: Kade Hughes, Sara Reed, Kurtis Papadinis, Mitch Fistrovic, Christopher Rickerby, Victoria Borcsok, Hayley Edwards, Callum Hawthorne, Zoe Gousmett, Trent Heath, Scout Hook, Leah Howard, Adam Murphy, Troy Sussman, Jack Webster, Natalie Alexopoulos, Justin Anderson, Sarah Bakker, Carrie Barr, Louise Bell, Dion Bilios, Angelique Cassimatis, Dean Coach, Nicholas Eaton, Benjamin Giraud, Mark Hill, Kirsten King, Sarah Landy, Michael Lindner, Stephen McDowell, Liam McIlwain, Victoria Rimington, Anna-Lee Robertson, Christina Tan and Drew Weston.

No plans have been announced for seasons after Melbourne.

Director Richard Eyre said Hunt-Ballard would make an amazing Mary.

“We are thrilled we have found an exciting Australian Mary Poppins, who is so attractive, charming and witty,” he said.

“Verity matches the talents of the rest of our outstanding Australian cast.”

Producer Cameron Mackintosh said the search for the right Mary was a tough one.

He said it was the most “exhaustive search for a performer I have undertaken in the 30 years I have been bringing my productions to Australia”.

Mary Poppins was born in the pen of author P.L. Travers, who herself was born in Maryborough, Queensland, grew up there and in Bowral, New South Wales, and was an actor and journalist in Sydney before moving to London.

The first Mary Poppins book was published in 1934 and the enduring story of the ‘practically perfect governess’ enchanted millions of readers of all ages.

Now the musical is taking Mary to stages around the globe.

The musical production began in September 2004 at the Bristol Hippodrome before opening on 15 December 2004 at the Prince Edward Theatre, London, where it ran for over 1,000 performances and won many prestigious awards including an Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreography (Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear), the Variety Club Award for Best Musical and the Evening Standard Award for Best Set Design (Bob Crowley) and Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Design.

A U.K. tour opened in Plymouth and moved on to successful engagements across Great Britain, including Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester and Cardiff.

In 2006 the musical opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre to applause from critics and audiences of all ages. The Broadway production recouped its entire investment in 52 weeks, received seven 2007 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical and won the Tony Award for Best Set Design (Bob Crowley). It continues to consistently be one of the top grossing shows on Broadway.

The musical is currently previewing at the Her Majesty’s Theatre. Bookings: www.ticketek.com.


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