HOLLYWOOD — At the curtain call on the opening night of “Mary Poppins” at the Ahmanson on Nov. 15, the original Bert was there to hand over the baton. “I have only one word to say,” said Dick Van Dyke, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
At the after-party in the nearby Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Gavin Lee, who currently plays Bert, said in five years of doing the role on the West End and Broadway this was the first time Van Dyke had come to the performance, which made it a momentous occasion for Lee.
“I have some very big shoes to fill,” he said, adding that he’d never seen the movie until after he got the role. But in the movie, Bert never has to climb the walls and ceiling.
“The first time I was terrified, but it’s very safe. First they asked me to go up there,” Lee said. “Then they asked ‘can you tap dance while you’re up there’ and then, ‘can you sing.’ ”
Ashley Brown, who plays the titular role, said, “I thought I’d be more nervous,” but with the secure harness she felt quite safe.