Final Bow: Katie Nanni's Six Years of Disney Magic in Broadway's Mary Poppins
Stepping in time with the Broadway triple-threat.
Every show ends sometime (unless you're Phantom), so before the cast takes their final bow, there are a few things we want to know.
In 2006, Katie Nanni made her Broadway debut in the ensemble of Disney's Mary Poppins at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Over six years later, the New Amsterdam is still her home; besides a few brief leaves of absence, Nanni has stuck with the production from its October 16, 2006 first preview to its March 3, 2013 closing. In this edition of Final Bow, Nanni reflects on her time in the show from technical difficulties in previews to visits from Brad and Angelina, and her biggest Disney ear worm.
1. What is your favorite line that you delivered?
"Anything can happen if you let it." It's always so emotional for me to sing, [especially] if you're having a rough day. I thank god I get to sing that song. The lyrics are just so awesome.
2. Everyone loves inside jokes. So tell us…
a. What's the best one from your show?
Saturday night shows have always been a practical joke/prank night the entire run! [I'm] going miss the craziness back stage and on stage for Saturday night on Broadway!
b. Since there probably is one, what's the punch line of your cast's most unprintable inside joke?
"Someone's up your chimney!"
3. Every show experiences technical difficulties. What was the worst technical difficulty to be experienced during your show and how was it handled?
When the house broke down and couldn't move [in previews]. It stopped the show. When my Mom and Dad were there, seeing me on Broadway for the first time, they had to cancel [the show] because they couldn't get the set back moving. There are little things now, but once they got them ironed out at the beginning, it's been a well-oiled machine. I've been in awe.
4. What was the most "interesting" present someone gave you at the stage door?
I've had audience members send me letters. One woman was from my home town and she followed my career. She was talking about how she saw me in several productions and I taught a Master Class her son took, and how that changed his life. It was pretty amazing to receive a letter from a stranger...[Reading] that I touched someone's life.
5. Who is the coolest person that came to see your show? (You can't say your family!)
Brad [Pitt] and Angelina [Jolie] are pretty darn cool. But they did not come backstage.
6a. How many times have you seen the film Mary Poppins?
I probably have seen the film 12-15 times. I love that movie, and it's absolutely a part of my childhood.
6b. How many times have you performed in the show Mary Poppins?
I really should know the answer to that, but I have no idea! I took two small leaves to choreograph a regional show for five to six weeks, and also had a knee injury for five to six weeks. That wasn't too bad.
7. In a score full of ear worms, what is the song that gets caught in your head the most?
"Step in Time" sticks in my head the most. I think it's the rhythmic sense of it. Honestly, it's my favorite number.
8. What's the hardest thing about performing for children?
It's to not get distracted by their cuteness. You're not supposed to break that wall as a performer. I want to stare at them, I want to smile, and at the curtain call I can break that wall a little bit. The show is so mesmerizing that you think it would be an issue, but they're always well behaved. They're just in a trance [when they see] the set and brilliance of it.
9. Have there been many changes in the show over the course of six years?
There have been quite a few, everything from dialogue to production numbers. Now, [there's a song called] "Playing the Game," but [the show opened with] "Temper, Temper." When the show came over – I don't know for sure – but the buzz was that ["Temper, Temper"] created a little nervousness for audience members bringing their kids. They were worried about people being scared. "Playing the Game" is more playful and not dark. The cast loved "Temper, Temper" better. I feel like I can speak for everyone [when I say that].
10. How do they pull the umbrella out of the carpet bag?