Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Theatre: Poppins floats in for show

Matt Lee plays Bert in the stage show of Mary Poppins. Photo / Deen van Meer
Matt Lee plays Bert in the stage show of Mary Poppins. Photo / Deen van Meer

Famous nanny seeks Kiwi kids for big stage show that's practically perfect.

Mary Poppins fans are in for a spoonful of sugar as the hit Broadway show raises the curtains in Auckland.

And four New Zealand children could be part of the action with auditions coming up for the lead roles of Jane and Michael Banks.

Based on the book by Australian author Pamela Travers and made famous with the iconic 1964 film with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, the Disney production will hit the Civic Theatre on October 18.

The busy schedule means the roles of the Banks children will be shared between eight under 12-year-olds - and more are needed for the New Zealand season.

"We are looking for four new children," said associate producer Paula McKinnon. "We are looking in Australia as well but we will be holding auditions in New Zealand in July."

McKinnon said no acting experience was necessary but the successful children would need a stage presence.

"They need talent and it certainly helps if they can sing and dance. We try to look for very natural children."

During downtime, the children would be schooled by a tutor.

A spectacular set makes the show, in Mary Poppins' speak, practically perfect.

Sixteen shipping containers will bring the elaborate set of 17 Cherry Tree Lane to New Zealand for the three-month season.

Lead actor Matt Lee who plays chimney sweep Bert - made famous by Dick Van Dyke - said the show about a dysfunctional family and their supercalifragilisticexpialido-cious nanny would strike a chord with most.

"I have never been in a show that has had such a warm response and the people most affected are the adults," said Lee.

"It is such a great story with a great message and it's one everyone can relate to."

There were new songs and characters in the stage show. One of the most entertaining was evil anti-nanny Miss Andrew - played by Natalie Gamsu, 51.

The nanny was the one actor not applauded at the end of the show.

"It is fun - until I have to go out and bow," said Gamsu. "It requires me to be very brave to go to the edge of my mean-ness, I try to scare the children every night."
Mary Poppins goes on sale June 21 at The Edge and Ticketmaster.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 22 Aug 2014 16:25:13 Processing Time: 505ms