Magic of ‘Mary Poppins’ comes to the Stranahan


It’s nearly impossible for Madeline Trumble to single out a favorite scene as the lead in Mary Poppins opening Tuesday as part of the Stranahan Theater’s Broadway Series.

“I love working with the kids. I love the simpler parts of the show; there’s a scene when I’m on the rooftop with Bert and we’re singing to each other. I love the guy who plays Bert [Con O’Shea-Creal] he’s so fun and easygoing on stage. The one time I’m on the stage alone all by myself; I just love that moment when the whole show comes together.”

Trumble, 23, a Berkeley, Calif., native and University of Michigan graduate, adored the Disney classic film from the time she was a young child and renews that affinity eight times a week in this Theater League national tour.

“I think the coolest part is everything that comes with playing her, like meeting the little kids after the show,” she said in a recent phone interview from Durham, N.C. “No one ever recognizes me after the show because I have really blond hair. One time I met a girl in between shows and her mom started talking to the group, she said, ‘I will have to tell her you dyed your hair because she believes Mary Poppins is real.’”

Children are caught up in the magical tale of this flying nanny, but what about the adults?

“The parents are always more excited than the kids are. They are just in awe. Their eyes are always really big. Always. Many parents are holding back tears. They say, ‘Thank you so much. I loved the movie.’ I think it allows you to become a kid again,” Trumble said.

It would be delightful if a spoonful of sugar made the unbearable more bearable, if you could dance upside down, if the supernatural nanny did exist, if an umbrella could fly you among the clouds.

Trumble gets to fly eight times a week. “It’s cool, and I forget how cool it is. At first I definitely was afraid. It’s scary and you lose all control and you’re flying in air, but it feels so good.”

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh created stage magic with Poppins. It opened on Broadway in November, 2006, and is set to close March 3 after more than 2,600 performances.

It is running on three continents, has grossed more than $644 million, and has been seen by more than 9.3 million theatergoers. It’s won more than 44 theater awards including the 2007 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design.

This North America tour opened in March, 2009. Trumble joined the cast about six months ago and has or will tour through much of the nation including California, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado. The show closes in Alaska on June 2.

The musical is truer to P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins series. Travers was known to be disappointed with the film version that took liberties straying from her books. 

She was said to cry at the premiere of the 1964 classic starring Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke and loved by generations.

“It took years to get rights from the author. She promised her rights before she died [in 1996],” Trumble said. The stipulation was the story had to follow the author’s books more closely.

“What impresses me is the way they took the movie and put it on stage. This one is iconic, and they know it. It was the first movie to have actors with animation and live action together at the same time,” she said.

“‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ and ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ are still sung, but in a different setting” Trumble said.

“I think my favorite is ‘Step in Time’ ... I love ‘Feed the Birds’; it’s so beautiful. My favorite is ’Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.’ It changes all the time because it’s great music,” she said.

“The role is a lot of responsibility, but it really is rewarding. I get to sing amazing music and tap dance with a dozen chimney sweeps every night. I never get tired of it.”

“Mary Poppins” performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Additional performances will be at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices start at $28. Information: 419-381-8851 or

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