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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 6, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 18
A touch of magic : An interview with Mary Poppins' Nicolas Dromard
Arts & Entertainment
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A touch of magic : An interview with Mary Poppins' Nicolas Dromard

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

Mary Poppins
May 12-29
Paramount Theatre


There are countless beloved characters who have made the transition from book to film with great success. Far fewer characters attempt the move from celluloid to the live stage, and only a small percentage of those manage the change without losing storyline or any of the characters' integrity. Mary Poppins has made the journey as easily as if she flew in on the eastern wind. Ever-present is Bert, the lovable chimney sweep who acts as a narrator/guide through the world of everyone's favorite English nanny. Nicolas Dromard plays Bert and chatted with the SGN about theatre and Mary Poppins.

Eric Andrews-Katz: What started your interest in dancing?

Nicolas Dromard: I saw a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie (Top Hat) when I was 6 years old. I was always imitating it - tap dancing in the halls at school. One teacher called my mom and said, 'Get him in tap class; he's driving me crazy!'

Andrews-Katz: What was the first show you were cast in?

Dromard: When I was younger, the first show was Anne of Green Gables at a community theatre in Ottawa. My first show as an adult was the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in Branson, MO. I was in the ensemble.

Andrews-Katz: You've been in WICKED, West Side Story, Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia!, and several others. Which was your most challenging role and why?

Dromard: Bert in Mary Poppins is the most challenging. He's such a jack-of-all-trades through the entire show. There's the tap dancing, chimney sweeping, etc. & And so many costume changes. It's a race to get ready for the next scene.

Andrews-Katz: You've said that you'd like to play Jamie in the musical The Last Five Years. What draws you to that particular piece?

Dromard: Jason Robert Brown is an incredible composer/lyricist. I adore the music, and the story is very relatable, especially in this business. Actors' relationships are difficult when one person is a success and the other isn't. As Jamie's writing [in the show] blossoms and his girlfriend, the actor, isn't doing as well, it shows hurt on both sides, and is a great show.

Andrews-Katz: What was your audition process like for Mary Poppins?

Dromard: I was very fortunate to be part of the original Broadway cast in 2006. I was with WICKED. Then I flew into New York to audition and got the ensemble. I was called back by the director to audition for the part of Bert, and took a red-eye and auditioned. Literally as I landed on the return flight, I got a message saying I got the part.

Andrews-Katz: With the movie being so well known, what differences can the musical's audience expect?

Dromard: It is different. You have your favorite songs from the movie, but new songs were written for the Broadway version. The Broadway storyline involves more from P.L. Travers' books and combines several stories in the books with the movie. Both aspects are represented on stage. It also gives much more of a thorough connection between Mr. Banks and his wife and family.

Andrews-Katz: As Bert, there is one number where you literally dance across the ceiling. Can you explain the training process of being in a harness?

Dromard: It's real Disney magic, so we can't reveal too much. But walking on the ceiling, you start walking up the wall and using your core muscles. Once you're hanging upside down, gravity assists. The main thing to remember is to make sure you're staying balanced so you don't slip or let yourself get pulled up headfirst.

Andrews-Katz: Since there are several things flying in the air in this show, what's the funniest or oddest thing that has happened on stage?

Dromard: Nothing 'magically' has gone wrong. People have flubbed lines, and that's just live theatre. It's always fun and makes everyone get on their toes to not react and stay in character. Technical aspects have been pretty flawless and (thankfully) running smoothly. We are lucky to have a great team and, of course the Disney magic never goes wrong!

The enchanting Mary Poppins made her debut in 1934 between the pages of P.L. Travers' book of the same name - the first in a series of five - bringing with her a world of eccentric shopkeepers and colorful chimney sweeps. Immortalized on film in 1964, the film starred Dick Van Dyke as Bert, and Julie Andrews as the titular nanny. The movie would be nominated for 13 Academy Awards (winning five including Best Actress, Original Song, and Original Score). In the West End, Mary Poppins became a Disney musical in 2004, making her Broadway debut in 2006. The musical was nominated for seven Tony Awards in 2007, including Best Musical, Best Actor, and Best Actress in a Musical.

For tickets, visit stgpresents.org or call (877) 784-4849.

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