Georgina Hopson, performer, Mary Poppins

you don’t need to try to be anyone you’re not because you, the way you are, with your unique and crazy mind, is going to be enough ...

If you wore out the VHS of Mary Poppins as a kid, prepare to be excited. The much-loved Disney film is coming to life at The Arts Centre Gold Coast from Friday June 17 to Saturday June 25. With unforgettable songs like ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’, ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’, ‘Step in Time’ and ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’, the production features the finest local talent including the lovely Georgina Hopson as Mary. Originally hailing from Toowoomba, Georgina is a 2014 graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and recently played Cinderella in Into the Woods (Harvest Rain) and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance (Essgee Entertainment/Harvest Rain). We caught up with Georgina in between rehearsals to chat about magic and milestones.

We’re so excited about the upcoming season of Mary Poppins! Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect from the show?
I think you can expect magic, a lot of local Gold Coast talent, an amazing set and some beautiful music. Basically you can expect a really good time at the theatre.

Congratulations on scoring the part of Mary Poppins! How have you taken to the role?
It’s an incredibly challenging part mainly because it’s such an iconic role, there are some pretty big shoes to fill! Julie Andrews set the benchmark pretty damn high but the thing that I love the most about Mary Poppins is that she is mysterious and magical and exciting. She’s the perfect balance of firm but kind. She really is one of the most beautiful characters to play and it’s been so much fun to put my own spin on it.

Have you watched the film over and over to prepare for the role?
I haven’t watched it recently but honestly I know the film back-to-front! I watched it all the time when I was a kid, I was obsessed. I made the decision not to watch it recently because I need to be able to make the role my own.

How does it feel to play such a monumental character from your childhood?
It’s pretty surreal. I never would have imagined myself to be playing Mary Poppins that’s for sure! It is certainly a childhood dream, I feel very grateful of the opportunity.

You also recently plated Cinderella, are there any other childhood roles you have your eye on?
Anything and everything! But if we’re talking childhood roles, I so badly want to play a Disney princess. It’s not Disney but they’ve recently brought out a stage musical of Anastasia, that’s definitely a role that I would love to play. That’s the exciting thing about theatre, you never know what’s going to come your way.

What do you hope audience members will think, feel or take away from this experience?
I think they will be surprised at the heart in the show. For me, the most pivotal storyline is the journey of Mr Banks, the father. He goes through an incredible transformation, there really are some amazing messages about family, love and being accepting. I think the audience will take a lot away from it.

How terrified were you of saying supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus over and over again?
Oh I am all over it! I love it! I am good to go now, I even say it backwards in the show. It took me a long time but I have mastered it.

Let’s take it back a bit, where does your love of musical theatre come from?
I’ve always loved it, even when I was a kid. I watched a lot of black and white Judy Garland films and classic MGM musicals like Singing In The Rain. My mum is incredibly musical and when we were kids she used to play in the local orchestra so we’d get to sit in the orchestra pit and watch the shows, it’s always been a part of my life. I’ve always been a natural performer, you know that annoying, attention-seeking kid.

You’ve played some absolutely amazing roles, what would you consider to be your career highlight so far?
I have, I have been really lucky. I don’t know if I have a highlight so far because it’s all been really amazing! I am about to step into the role of ensemble and understudy of Eliza Doolittle in Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady, that will be a highlight because Julie Andrews is directing it. Actually, the highlight of my career so far has to be auditioning for Julie Andrews, singing for the queen of musical theatre. She’s my childhood hero.

How terrified were you when you walked into that audition?
Oh so terrified! Luckily they were running an hour behind that day so I had an hour to pull myself together and behave like a normal human. I had a chance to prepare myself mentally and I talked to my singing teacher, who is my mentor, and he told me not to worry, she’s just a person. That actually really helped but as soon as I walked in the room she was so lovely that I wasn’t even nervous.

Any tips for overcoming nerves?
Breathing is a big one, when people are nervous they forget to breathe so do some long, slow breaths. Nerves are a really closely related emotion to excitement so every time I am really nervous I try to convert that emotion and energy into excitement. I change my mindset and tell myself I am excited for the performance. I find that helps.

What’s your dream?
A Tony Award, Broadway, the usual! I’m a small town girl at heart and I love going back to the country, that’s my happy place, but my dream is to have a long and prosperous career out of musical theatre.

What inspires you?
Nature inspires me. It always helps me put things in perspective. Being able to go for a walk in the mountains or something as simple as looking at the sky, there’s something amazing about being aware of your surroundings.

Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share?
My mantra for life comes from one of my theatre inspirations, her name is Sierra Boggess and she’s the star of Phantom of the Opera and a lot of amazing musicals. Her motto is, “You are enough, you are so enough, it’s unbelievable how enough you are.” I find it really beautiful because it kind of says you don’t need to try to be anyone you’re not because you, the way you are, with your unique and crazy mind, is going to be enough. That has always resonated with me.


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