The world’s favourite nanny will fly into her original Australian home when Mary Poppins arrives in Melbourne next year. Returning to Her Majesty’s Theatre where Australia first discovered the magic of Mary, performances of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s new production will begin on Sunday 29 January 2023.
For the Melbourne season, musical theatre icon Marina Prior is returning to Cherry Tree Lane, joining the cast in the dual roles of Bird Woman and Miss Andrew. Ms Prior, who originated the role of Mrs Banks in the Australian premiere production of Mary Poppins in 2010, expressed her joy about coming back the production.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be doing Mary Poppins again, especially to be performing in my hometown of Melbourne,” said Ms Prior. “It feels like I’ve come full circle. This is such a special and iconic production, and I can already sense the magic that is being created.”
This adds another credit for Ms Prior in Cameron Mackintosh’s productions, continuing the enduring relationship between the two theatrical maestros. Mackintosh shared his delight at welcoming Ms Prior to the company of Mary Poppins, who also originated the roles of Jellylorum and Griddlebone in Cats (1985), Cosette in Les Misérables (1987), and Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera (1990-93) in Australia.
“I am really delighted, not only to be bringing my acclaimed new production of Mary Poppins back to Her Majesty’s, starring Stefanie Jones and Jack Chambers, but also welcoming back my and Melbourne’s favourite star, Marina Prior to the joint roles of Miss Andrew and the Bird Woman,” said Cameron Mackintosh.
Marina, of course, played an unforgettable Mrs Banks in my first production of Mary Poppins over 12 years ago, as well as leading roles in some of my other famous productions including Cats, Les Miserables, Witches of Eastwick, and The Phantom of the Opera.
“I am thrilled that my latest Poppins has been embraced with even greater joy than the original with a phenomenal cast in an even more spectacular production that celebrates the joy and elation of live theatre, in a way that very few other shows can.”
“I’m looking forward to Melbourne audiences stepping in time to the theatre early next year, where they are guaranteed a show that is ‘Practically Perfect in every way’!” said Mr Mackintosh.
The original stage production of Mary Poppins had already charmed the world prior to the Australian premiere season, having won Olivier, Tony ®, and Evening Standard awards for the West End and Broadway productions.
Opening in 2010, Melbourne audiences wholeheartedly embraced Mary’s magic, as Mary Poppins shattered Australian box office records before going on to win a record-breaking 8 Helpmann Awards.
Now, a new generation of Australians have joined the tens of millions of people worldwide to experience Mary’s magic, with the new production that opened in Sydney in May 2022.
Adapted from the original stories by Australian author PL Travers and the beloved 1964 Disney film, the story of the world’s favourite Nanny is brought to life on stage by dazzling choreography, incredible effects, and unforgettable songs.
The talents of the all-Australian cast have been celebrated, led by Stefanie Jones as Mary Poppins and Jack Chambers as Bert. They are joined by Tom Wren as George Banks, Lucy Maunder as Winifred Banks, Hannah Waterman as Mrs Brill, Gareth Isaac as Robertson Ay, Robert Grubb as Chairman and Admiral Boom, Cherine Peck as Mrs Corry, Lisa Sontag as Miss Lark, Kade Hughes as Neleus, Stephen Anderson as Park Keeper, and Andrew Broadbent as Policeman.
The role of Bird Woman in Sydney is performed by Nancye Hayes and will be performed by Patti Newton in Brisbane. The role of Miss Andrew is performed by Chelsea Plumley for the Sydney and Brisbane seasons.
The company is completed by Hayden Baum, Cara Bessey, Katrina Bickerton, Molly Bugeja, Emily Casey, Ed Deganos, Joshua Gordon, Kimberley Hodgson, Gareth Jacobs, Hollie James, Sebastian Johnston, Genevieve Kingsford, Zoe Komazec, Sasha Lian-Diniz, Noah Missell, Ellie Nunan, Max Patterson, Jamie Reisin, Taylor Scanlan, Jacob Steen, Patrick Whitbread, and Paul Whiteley, with eight young performers sharing the roles of Jane and Michael Banks.
The original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman include the classic songs Jolly Holiday, Step in Time, Feed the Birds, and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. New songs and additional music are by the Olivier Award-winning British team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
Book is by Academy Award®-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, and this production is co-created by Cameron Mackintosh. The producer for Disney Theatrical Productions is Thomas Schumacher.
This production of Mary Poppins has orchestrations by William David Brohn with dance and vocal arrangements by George Stiles. It has a new sound design by Paul Gatehouse and new lighting by Hugh Vanstone and Natasha Katz. Co-choreography is by Stephen Mear.
The reimagined set and costume designs are by Bob Crowley. Co-direction and choreography is by Matthew Bourne and direction by Richard Eyre.
Mary Poppins is produced in Australia by Cameron Mackintosh, The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand, and Michael Cassel Group.
“It’s the kind of show that makes you want to rush out and gather up every kid in the neighbourhood to experience the joy and wonder of live theatre.” – Australian Arts Review
Performances for the Melbourne season of Mary Poppins commence on Sunday 29 January, with pre-sale tickets available from Monday 12 September. The current Sydney season will close on Sunday 9 October. Performances at Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre, QPAC will begin on Saturday 22 October. For more information, visit: www.marypoppinsmusical.com.au for details.
Image: Marina Prior (supplied)