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Broadway finds its Mary Poppins

The 23-year-old actor, who made her Broadway debut in September 2005, will now play the world's most famous nanny.

india Updated: May 11, 2006 15:05 IST

Broadway has found its Mary Poppins. She is theBelle from

Beauty and the Beast

.

Ashley Brown, who currently stars in the long-running musical based on the Disney animated film, will portray the world's most famous nanny when Mary Poppins opens onNovember 16 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, producers Cameron Mackintosh and Thomas Schumacher announced Monday.

Brown will be joined by Gavin Lee, who portrays Bert the chimney sweep in the London production, which has been running there since December 2004.

"The moment Ashley Brown auditioned for us and members of our creative team, we knew we had found our Mary Poppins," Mackintosh and Schumacher said in a joint statement. Further casting will be announced later.

The 23-year-old Brown made her Broadway debut as Belle in September 2005. A graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Brown appeared in On the Record, a celebration of songs from Disney movies which toured the country.

The hit musical about the London nanny at 17 Cherry Tree Lane is based on the PL Travers stories and the 1964 Disney film. It begins preview performances onOctober 14 in New York.

Ashley Brown will portray the world's most famous nanny when Mary Poppins opens on November 16 at the New Amsterdam Theatre

Disney's The Lion King will give its last performance at the New Amsterdam on June 4 and move to the newly renovated Minskoff Theatre, where it will reopen on June 13.

The musicalwill feature many of the original songs from the film, which won five Academy Awards, including best actress for Julie Andrews' performance in the title role.

The score was written by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman, who won two Academy Awards best score and song (Chim Chim Cheree).

Their music also includes such songs as A Spoonful of Sugar, Let's Go Fly a Kite and Feed the Birds.

The stage version features new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. It will be directed by Richard Eyre, with co-direction and choreography by Matthew Bourne.

First Published: May 11, 2006 15:05 IST