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Mary Poppins is taking the Conejo Valley by storm! Juliana Hansen (the “practically perfect” Mary Poppins) exudes Mary Poppins’ iconic charm, mystery and magic. So it was with delight that this blogger had the chance to interview Juliana and ask her some of my own burning questions as well as those you lovely readers came up with. So pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and maybe a biscuit or two and enjoy getting to know this actor all the more…
|(c) Juliana Hansen|
The Joyous Living: Bert and Mary are such iconic roles. Julie Andrews, Laura Michelle Kelly and Ashley Brown are just a few of the actors who’ve portrayed Mary Poppins. What is something new that you bring to the magical nanny?
Juliana Hansen: It’s always daunting taking on an iconic role- both because you want to be deserving of it, but also because you want to individualize it and not just imitate someone else. Anything genuine is going to have my own spin on it, because I am my own unique person. Julie’s Mary is a terrific role model- a great launching off point, but because this script is so complex and combines elements of the film and the books by PL Travers, I needed to go much deeper with Mary. It wasn’t satisfying to me to just be the enigma that Mary is in the film.. I’ve worked hard to find a reason for EVERY game Mary plays with the children, and a reason for why she is so stern with the children. Within this world, I’ve also worked hard to add warmth, humor and heart, because I think Mary has all of these qualities. It’s why we love her so much.
The Joyous Living: Juliana, I first saw you sing on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s You’re the One That I Want competition. Look how far you’ve come! What has it been like working with such legends as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Sherman?
Juliana Hansen: It’s a complete gift to work with such legends! Both Andrew and Richard are kind men and made me feel completely at home singing their music. Andrew stuck up for me when one of our judges was critiquing me harshly. He then found me at our after party (which we had every Sunday following the live taping) and told me that if they were doing Evita on the West End (at the time), that he would absolutely see me for the role. That blew my mind. My relationship with Richard is now so beautifully multifaceted – we are dear friends, he is like family to me, and we collaborate. I treasure him, and it still blows my mind when he requests me for a project, or Disney calls and says Richard referred me!
Juliana Hansen: I’m lucky I didn’t have to do BERT’S accent! The RP (royal pronunciation) has always come easily, and I perfected it when I went to school in Guildford. I have my masters in Acting from the Guildford School of Acting… As the only American in my class of 8, my teachers made sure that I perfected it!
The Joyous Living: Mary Poppins is such a family friendly show and you work with two sets of Janes and Michaels. What do you hope children take away from this show?
Juliana Hansen: The children are teaching ME so much! They’re such great actors and total pros, and it’s wonderful working with them. I am inspired by their dedication and they’re great reminders to not take myself too seriously. They do their job with joy, but they don’t stress. They really are playing up there- which is what acting is- make believe. Emphasis on BELIEVE! If there is something I’d like them to take away from this show, it’s to remember the lessons the show teaches- kindness towards others, positive outlook, empathy, and that anything can happen if you let it… If we don’t get on our own way, we can move mountains. I want them to remember how wonderful we all think they are and to carry that confidence into their adult lives.
The Joyous Living: What is next for you?
Juliana Hansen: A vacation in Australia and New Zealand! I’m working on an animated feature with Richard Sherman, traveling the world with Disney and hopefully landing that TV role I’ve been dying to do!
THANKS JULIANA for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing a bit of your magical experience! The show is only in town for one more weekend so go get your tickets NOW!!
And if you want to get your hands on a copy of Juliana’s album, visit Kritzerland here. She also has a handful of songs on iTunes including my particular favorite, Great Things (Everyone Has a Story: The Songs of Adryan Russ).