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Mary Poppins: Ashley Brown to return on 8 Mar 2011

Ashley Brown, Broadway's original Mary Poppins, returns to the musical on 8 Mar 2011 at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Brown will assume the title role through to 17 Jul 2011. Laura Michelle Kelly, currently playing the role, will take a brief hiatus for a film project, returning to the show on 19 Jul 2011.

Brown reunites with her original Broadway 'Bert,' co-star Gavin Lee, having last performed with him when they launched and headlined the Mary Poppins North American tour.

For the role of Mary Poppins, Ashley Brown received Outer Critics, Drama League and Drama Desk award nominations when the show premiered on Broadway in November 2006. She reprised her role in the North American tour and earned the 2010 Back Stage Garland Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Musical.

The Broadway productioin of Mary Poppins also features Laird Mackintosh as 'George Banks,' Megan Osterhaus as 'Winifred Banks,' Valerie Boyle as 'Mrs. Brill,' Ann Arvia as 'Bird Woman,' Andrew Keenan-Bolger as 'Robertson Ay,' Ruth Gottschall as 'Miss Andrew' and Jonathan Freeman as 'Admiral Boom.' Alternating in the role of 'Jane Banks' are Rozi Baker, Catherine Missal and Sadie Seelert; alternating in the role of 'Michael Banks' are Ethan Haberfield, David Gabriel Lerner and Anthony Scarpone-Lambert.
(Karl Kenzler returns to the role of George Banks on 5 Apr 2011)

The Broadway production of Mary Poppins opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre on the 16 Nov 2005, following previews from the 14 Oct, where it is currently booking through to 21 Aug 2011.

The musical opened to mostly good reviews: "A roof-raising, toe-tapping, high-flying extravaganza" (New York Daily News); "Was fine as a Disney movie and is even better as this Broadway musical" (New York Post); "A real Broadway musical - the kind we haven't seen in a long time." (Journal News); "Most children, however, really don't know the difference between great and mediocre performances, and they will love the show." (newyorktheatreguide).

However, not all the reviews were so favourable: "Handsome, homily-packed and rather tedious show." (New York Times); "Resembles a vast, elaborate clockwork toy of yesteryear." (Star-Ledger); "A wee bit of a letdown." (Washington Post).

Mary Poppins is based on the stories by P.L. Travers and the 1964 Walt Disney film.

The musical features many of the original songs from the film, with music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, who won two Oscar's for the film Mary Poppins. The new stage production features new songs and additional music and lyrics by Olivier Award-winners George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The production has been created in collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh.

Director Richard Eyre leads the award-winning creative team assembled for Mary Poppins with co-direction and choreography by Olivier Award winner Matthew Bourne. Mary Poppins features a book by Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes, set and costume design is by Tony Award winner Bob Crowley, co-choreography by Olivier Award winner Stephen Mear, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Steve Canyon Kennedy, orchestrations by William David Brohn, and musical supervision by David Caddick.

Mary Poppins creator Pamela Lyndon (P.L.) Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Australia on August 9, 1899. While touring as a theatre actress, Pamela began publishing poems, articles, and stories; which led to a career in journalism. It was in 1934, while living in England, that she wrote the first of six books featuring Mary Poppins. Pamela Travers passed away on April 23, 1996.

Ashley Brown

Originally published on