BWW Interview: MARY POPPINS' Leading Lady Maddy Trumble Talks Theatre Beginnings, Tour Life and More
There are certain stories that when they are mentioned bring a sparkle to both the young and the young at heart. One of those, I believe, is the timeless P.L. Travers classic, Mary Poppins. Whether you are talking about the original book, the classic Disney movie or the new theatrical production, Mary Poppins has truly lived up to her reputation - "practically perfect in every way." Carrying the baton, or rather, the parrot-handled umbrella when the show returns to Atlanta is Maddy Trumble and I had the pleasure of chatting with her and learning about her experience with the show. Here's a hint, it can be summed up in one word - supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Maddy, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I am excited to hear about the show and I know our readers will be too. We are really looking forward to Mary Poppins return to Atlanta!
Let's start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career. Specifically, how did you get into the theatre business?
Well, I'm from Berkeley, California and my dad was an actor, kind of. My dad is deaf and he kind of fell into acting. They needed a deaf man who had really good speech, which is really hard to find, for Children of a Lesser God on Broadway. So he kind of fell into that and was on Broadway for a few years. Me and my brother and sister all do theatre and did it from the time we were really little. I think we were destined to be performers. We never really did anything else growing up and living in the Bay Area there was a lot of theatre to do. I did my first show when I was seven and I never really stopped. I didn't really train, but did some community theatre and some regional theatre. Then college came and I only auditioned for musical theatre programs. I went to the University of Michigan for four years and got my degree. I got my Mary Poppins audition for the first national tour from my senior showcase, which is a show the graduating seniors put on for casting directors and agents. After a second audition a few months later, I was cast as the Mary understudy on the tour. That was 2011 and I understudied the role from August to February, moved to New York and did Newsies on Broadway for a couple months. And then they called me when they needed a new Mary. This company is really great about moving up understudies. Pretty much all the leads on Broadway and the tour for the last few years were understudies first.
And what's it like to be back on the road but this time as Mary?
It's funny, Mary Poppins wasn't really on my radar. I never really thought about it being something I could do. In college I was always cast as older people - mothers and grandmothers, and people would say "you are so mature for your age!". I had this thought in my head that I wouldn't really work until I was older. So I had no idea that this would happen or that I would get to play a leading part so early on. It has all happened so fast. It's pretty cool!
And coming off of Newsies, and the Mary Poppins tour before that, you could say Disney has been really good to you! What do you think it is about Disney shows, specifically on stage that have been such a popular ticket?
I think they just know how to do theatre. One of the cool things about Disney shows that has always been true, is that they don't compromise the casting trying to insert stars, make exceptions, etc. Disney has never had to do that. For Newsies I was in the opening night cast and there were 14 or 15 people making their Broadway debuts in that show. Disney is also known for theatrical magic and for finding really creative people to work on their shows. I really think the shows are better for it.
I am curious about the difficulty of playing a character that is so well known and that was so memorably played by Julie Andrews? Was that a challenge?
I watched the movie so much growing up and watched again when I got the part, and our show is very different. There's new music, new characters, and new dialogue. I think the character is very different too. People are so surprised at how stern Mary Poppins is in this production. It's a different character and that definitely helps. If I was doing it word for word in the same costumes, I would definitely be concerned with the comparison. But our show is really a different Mary Poppins. But on the other hand, it is also so great to have such a great role model in an iconic actress like Julie Andrews - she is someone I trust and admire so much. But I do have to borrow from her, it's inevitable. But that hasn't made me nervous but has been more of an inspiration.
Mary Poppins is such a timeless story. What is it like bringing this story to a new generation of audiences?
Mary Poppins has survived so many generations and kids nowadays still love it. It's still very special and magical to them. I think what's special about our show is it's a musical and there is lots of amazing dancing and costumes and sets and effects that are exciting, but the real message of our show is about family. It's about magic and spectacle but it's also about the Banks kids and their parents and that is really important. I think that's why parents love it and kids love it. It's a show for everyone!
What part of playing this role do you like the most? What do you look forward to the most each night?
It's so fun to play Mary Poppins and I forget what happens behind me when I snap my fingers, that I make the magic happen, so that is pretty cool. But I really love singing the show and dancing and being on stage with my castmates and friends, and I love working with the kids, too. It's all really special.
Having been a part of the show on tour before and now, I am curious if there are differences between audiences in different cities on tour?
Yes, defnitely. We played Florida for six weeks and those audiences were really different than our audiences in Knoxville, for example. It's funny, only in certain cities do people come to the stage door. In Tampa every night there was a crowd outside the door, but I haven't had a single person in Wisconsin, probably because they don't want to stand outside in the cold. We've had really great audiences. They are pretty vocal. We've been lucky, it definitely makes the show easier when the audience is loud and supportive. It definitely makes things easier.
I have to ask about the flying. It looks so magical from the audience, is it something you enjoy or is it scary? Especially in the finale?
No, it's really fun, I love it. It's not scary at all. That's one of the things that I forget is really cool and when the audience claps I am like, oh yeah, this is pretty great!
And have you ever been to Atlanta, or will this be your first visit here?
I haven't played the Fox before, but I have been to Atlanta before. I went to a prom with a guy from summer camp - I came all the way from California to go with him, that was back in 2007. We ate at the SunDial restaurant, too which was a lot of fun. So I've been to Atlanta but never performed there. I am really looking forward to it.
So what's next for you?
I don't have any plans. Our tour closes on June 2nd in Alaska. So I will move back to New York. It's tricky because you can't book anything really while you are on the road. You have to be in New York to get the next job. So we will see, I don't know what's next.
Is there a dream role that you would like to play one day?
I would love to go back to Newsies at some point. I was a standby for the lead girl, but I never got to go on. I would love to do that. It's a really fun show and a really fun part. But, you can never really predict what's next. It's always going to be something you don't expect. So I try not to think too much about it.
Maddy, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today. Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
Well, something that I like to talk about because it's important is that I have diabetes and I am involved with that and I hope I can be a role model for kids. I have had it since I was four and growing up I didn't have anyone to look up to, so I hope I can be that inspiration to someone out there.
Mary Poppins will return to the Fox Theatre on Tuesday, April 2 for a limited one-week engagement through Sunday, April 7. Tickets start at $25 and are on sale now at www.FoxATLTix.com or by calling 855-ATL-TIXX (855-285-8499). Special group rates for 10 or more are available by calling 404-881-2000, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or online HERE. Half-price tickets are available for the Tuesday and Wednesday performances by using the code "AJC".
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Photo by Jeremy Daniel