Ashley Brown has snagged the title role in the Broadway incarnation of “Mary Poppins,” set to begin perfs in October. The largely unknown 23-year-old thesp will co-star alongside Gavin Lee, who originated the role of chimneysweep Bert in the original London production.
Brown kicked off her career as the lead in the Disney touring show “On the Record,” and currently plays Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Laura Michelle Kelly created the part of Mary (and won an Olivier for it) in London. Many legiters originally expected to see her reprise the role in Gotham, but inside word had it that Brown’s stellar audition tipped the scale in the actress’ favor.
The first co-production of legit majors Disney Theatrical Prods. (“The Lion King”) and Cameron Mackintosh (“The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables”), “Poppins” is co-directed by Richard Eyre and Matthew Bourne, who also co-choreographs.
Score incorporates familiar songs from the 1964 Disney pic as well as new tunes by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”) wrote the book.
“Poppins” preemed in December 2004 on the West End, where the show is still playing. Gotham version opens Nov. 16 at the New Amsterdam, the current home of “The Lion King,” which shifts to the Minskoff in June. It follows fast on the heels of Disney’s latest big-budget Broadway tuner, “Tarzan,” opening May 10.