Laura Michelle Kelly
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Laura Michelle Kelly
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
British stage star Laura Michelle Kelly, who is currently starring in the title role of Mary Poppins on Broadway, is no stranger to P.L. Travers' practically perfect nanny, having originated the role in London in 2004 and winning an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. TheaterMania recently spoke to Kelly -- who co-starred in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof -- about returning to the role, working with current co-star Christian Borle, and her experiences working with Johnny Depp, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Goldblum.

THEATERMANIA: What made you want to come back to the show after such a long absence?
LAURA MICHELLE KELLY: What could have stopped me? This part is just sensational, and to play that magic every night and to be part of a story that inspires generations is amazing. And to be asked to play it in New York -- especially after I felt my chance had come and gone -- made me so happy!

TM: When you decided to come to New York to do the show, did you know who your Bert was going to be?
LMK: I didn't. But when I heard Christian Borle was doing it, I thought that was perfect. Not only had I heard about how funny he was in Legally Blonde, but I actually went through a phase of playing that CD over and over. And he is fun; he just makes me laugh.

TM: How much has the show actually changed between when you did it in London and how it is now on Broadway?
LML: They've added so many games to it and so many more fun elements, things like the "Jolly Holiday" section and the tea party. I think people keep coming back to see the show and, when they do, they want to see even more things that make it spectacular. Cameron Mackintosh is very sure never to leave something alone; he knows the key to live theater is that everything is new and fresh every day.

TM: How do you see Mary Poppins, the character?
LMK: She's an angel. She creates through a series of games and adventures and magic these opportunities for these families to see how to love each other again -- and then she goes on to the next family. I love the care that she has for the people she meets, especially the children.

Laura Michelle Kelly as Mary and Christian Borle
in Mary Poppins
(© Joan Marcus)
Laura Michelle Kelly as Mary and Christian Borle
in Mary Poppins
(© Joan Marcus)
TM: How are you and Mary different from each other?
LMK: She's definitely more together than I am, and I love playing that. She teaches me a lot. She can also do many things that I can't; for example, she can tidy a room in a second.

TM: What was it like playing the Beggar Woman in the film version of Sweeney Todd?
LMK: I loved doing that movie and working with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman. I learned so much watching them work and being in that environment. Film is an area that I want to keep growing in.

TM: You also did Speed-the-Plow with Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum at the Old Vic. Were they fun to work with?
LMK: Kevin is an amazing person; he is a one-man champion for the cause of theater. I just spoke to Jeff the other day and can't wait to see him. Did you know he's a wonderful piano player? He had a piano in his room and you would hear his singing and playing throughout the halls of the Old Vic.

TM: Was playing the role of Karen in that show very challenging?
LMK: The play was hard actually, and I was slightly intimidated about doing it. But I liked our director Matthew Warchus' take on it, because he thought Karen was all about the innocence and the naivety, and I don't think that was the way it had been played before. That is another part that I would love to revisit again, and I hope the boys will want to join me one day.