Mary Poppins is currently showing at Crown Theatre Perth with many describing it as “the best musical they’ve ever seen.” That’s a big statement given some of the brilliant productions we’ve seen in Perth in the last few years from Moulin Rouge The Musical to the Rocky Horror Show.
We sat down and had a chat with WAAPA alumna, Chelsea Plumley, who plays Miss Andrew in this production of Mary Poppins, about the show, her inspirations, and some of her favourite career moments.
What can viewers expect from Mary Poppins
They’re going to come along to a beautiful family story with lots of magic, lots of joy, the singing, the acting, the dancing blows your mind. And they’ll actually really feel very connected — there’s nothing quite like being in a theatre with 2,000 other people in it. It’s similar to what sport brings for people sitting in a stadium, especially when everyone’s singing the club song. It’s something that brings us all together en mass when we’re watching something together. There’s really nothing like the energy of live theatre.
It’s so important that we really expose our younger audience members to that live experience, now more than ever, considering the influence of streaming media. I know my children are huge fans of their iPads and devices, which is terrific. But having that live experience just offers something else. It’s very visceral, and it touches you in the heart and moves you in a very unexpected way.
On what it’s like playing the antagonist of the show
Talking about your character, Miss Andrew, who’s the antagonist of the story and often referred to as the “evil nanny.” What’s it like playing that style of character?
It’s absolutely wonderful playing the bad nanny. She’s so much fun. I have loved leaning into that mean side of me.
My previous big show I did before this one was Muriel’s Wedding where I play Deirdre Chambers so I have a little practice in this sort of role. Chambers was the woman who had the affair with the Father. So I was the scarlet woman and every time I came out with my bow, people would tisk me.
Similarly, people respond very viscerally to Miss Andrew in this show. When I come out for my bow, I normally get booed. And I just think terrific, that’s brilliant, I’ve done my job well playing this character. She’s a great character, I’ve loved singing her parts in the story, and her costumes are just fantastic.
What’s it like to put on a production like Mary Poppins?
Oh, it’s been an absolute joy because of the excellence of the material. So it’s such a pleasure to sing — especially for my role, Miss Andrew, she has an almost three-octave range, she’s scintillating.
But she also challenges me and I can’t drop the ball with her. So to sing it, it’s wonderful, the harmonies are beautiful to act, and it’s so much fun to dance it, especially something like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — it’s just so joyful. It’s a piece that calls you into being so you have no choice but to turn up and give your everything to honour it. I’ve absolutely loved every second.
What’s been your favourite production or career moment so far?
It was a show called The Light in the Piazza. Adam Guiteau wrote this piece that took me to places I never thought I could go. So it was a huge first at that time and I just love the show.
I loved how it expanded me, it was one of the most frightening things I’ve ever done, because I didn’t know if I could deliver. So that journey from the fear to the knowing was incredibly special. And I remember thinking, if I die now, and if I never get to do another show, and for some reason, I’ve hit my peak, I’m very happy.
What’s the one big reason people should go and see Mary Poppins?
Very simply, heart and humour — you’ll laugh from start to finish and you’ll be very moved.
Mary Poppins is showing at Crown Theatre Perth until Sunday, 22nd October. Tickets are available here.
All images supplied — credit Daniel Boud.