Interview: Theatre Under the Stars' Olivia Hernandez Dishes on the Magical Making of MARY POPPINS

Spoiler Alert: It's practically perfect in every way!

By: Dec. 06, 2022

Interview: Theatre Under the Stars' Olivia Hernandez Dishes on the Magical Making of MARY POPPINS As the greatest time of the year approaches, there's no better way to get in the "jolly holiday" spirit than with Theatre Under the Stars' production of MARY POPPINS!

It's delightfully nostalgic, unabashedly joyful, and delivers all the warm fuzzy feelings--guaranteed.

Running December 6th - 24th at the Hobby Center, you can't miss this practically perfect production.

TUTS' own Mary Poppins, Olivia Hernandez, sat down with me to share the ins and outs of the show, from taking on a classic role to returning to the TUTS stage once again!


This isn't your first time stepping into an iconic role on the TUTS stage! The last time we saw you, you played "Laurey" in OKLAHOMA. What's it like to be returning to the TUTS stage as another well-known leading lady?  

 I am so excited to be back at TUTS. OKLAHOMA! was such a special experience for me, and I have dreamed of coming back to Houston ever since. Playing Mary Poppins is thrilling because she is not only well-known but well-loved. In a way, it's a huge advantage because most people who see the show will already be rooting for my character and probably already have warm feelings toward her.

Interview: Theatre Under the Stars' Olivia Hernandez Dishes on the Magical Making of MARY POPPINS
The cast of Theatre Under the Stars'
holiday show, MARY POPPINS!
Photo Credit: Melissa Taylor

Do you have any nostalgic memories ofMARY POPPINS? Did you watch the movie growing up?

I loved watching the movie growing up. I was very influenced by Julie Andrews from a young age. I think her voice really informed my idea of what singing was from the very beginning. I remember wishing I could magically clean up my room the way she cleans the nursery in A Spoonful Of Sugar!

I'm always intrigued by actors' takes on classic characters, like Mary Poppins. How do you balance staying true to what people love and expect from her while also adding your own twist to the character?

 Well, I think that's exactly the challenge! I'm always aiming to strike a balance between being the Mary Poppins that people will remember from the film and the Mary Poppins that is written in this musical. There's an added challenge in the sense that this musical has now existed for almost 20 years, and I've seen many women play the role. I always want to bring elements of myself to a role, but there are also tried and true ways of doing things in this particular musical adaptation that I have to honor and implement. It's quite a lot to consider, but I like to think of it all as a grab bag of options I have when approaching the character.

Interview: Theatre Under the Stars' Olivia Hernandez Dishes on the Magical Making of MARY POPPINS
Olivia Hernandez as TUTS' Mary Poppins
Photo Credit: Melissa Taylor

How did you prepare for this role? What helped shape your interpretation of Mary?

 The first thing I did to prepare to play Mary Poppins was to get back into regular voice lessons. Since the pandemic, I've been very lucky to get work, but I haven't had to sing anything nearly this demanding, and after two years away from singing regularly, I did not have the stamina to comfortably sing a whole show. I revisited the movie, of course, and I listened to the audiobook of P.L. Travers' original Mary Poppins to get some inspiration. 

This cast is full of so many Houston favorites and loads of talent. What has the rehearsal process been like so far?

This cast is incredibly talented, and I feel so lucky to watch them work every day and share the stage with them. What strikes me even more than their abilities, though, is the generosity and heart of the Houston actors in this company. They're always ready with a kind word or a recommendation for the best Tex-Mex in town (I am a connoisseur of queso- please direct all recommendations to my Instagram DMs @_olivia.hdz_), and I'm grateful to be among such giving and fun people.

Interview: Theatre Under the Stars' Olivia Hernandez Dishes on the Magical Making of MARY POPPINS
Matt Loehr (Bert) and Olivia Hernandez (Mary Poppins)
Photo Credit: Melissa Taylor

Can you share a favorite moment you have in the show?

 My favorite moments in the show are the ones that I share with Matt Loehr, who plays Bert. He is a genius and makes me laugh so hard, both onstage and off. He is a true old-fashioned song-and-dance man and a perfect Bert. There is one particular moment with him that is my favorite, but I can't tell what it is, or I'd give too much away, so you'll just have to come and see for yourself!

MARY POPPINS runs from December 6 - 24 at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Visit tuts.com for tickets and more information.



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