Madeline Trumble has no big plans to tackle television and the movies anytime soon. For now, her life is practically perfect in every way.
A native of Berkeley, Calif., and a 2011 graduate of the University of Michigan, Trumble is playing the title role in the national touring production of “Mary Poppins,” opening Tuesday at Proctors and running through the following Sunday afternoon.
“This is only my third job, my first leading role, and I really, really like it,” said Trumble, who turns 23 on Thursday. “I still can’t believe I’m doing this, so television and the movies are going to have to be down the line somewhere. Obviously, when you’re starting to think more about your career and making money and maybe a family, then you want to get into TV and the movies. But I’m having so much fun doing what I’m doing. TV and films are like another dream that seems so far away right now.”
From ‘newsies’ to ‘poppins’
She took over the lead role just last month, after serving as an understudy and being a part of the ensemble for six months last year. Earlier this year, in March, she was on Broadway as part of the ensemble cast in “Newsies The Musical,” which is still running at the Nederlander Theatre in New York.
“I did ‘Newsies’ on Broadway for a couple of months and that was really exciting,” said Trumble. “I came in as a last-minute replacement. My third day at work was the official opening night. I didn’t even know everyone’s name yet, so it was really crazy, but it was a great experience.”
But then she heard that the national tour of “Mary Poppins” was looking for another Mary.
“That was the role that I had originally auditioned for, and though I was in the ensemble, I did go on a couple of times [as the lead],” she said. “When I heard the spot was open, I had to go back and re-audition. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Musical theater has been a big part of Trumble’s life for quite some time. Her first performance came at the age of 7 in “Annie Get Your Gun.”
“There was plenty of community theater in the Berkeley area, and my older brother and I loved it,” she remembered. “We were always kind of natural performers, and we loved all the movie musicals we watched with our parents. One night, my mother took us to an audition, I was 7, he was 9, just for fun, and we both got parts. We loved it.”
Trumble soon began taking drama classes, and her passion for the theater continued during her high school years.
“I had never really thought about doing it as a career,” she said. “I didn’t even know you could major in musical theater until my senior year, and then I thought, ‘I’ll never do that.’ ”
Well, she was wrong. And, while she’s a classic musical theater triple threat (singing, acting and dancing), she is also looking forward to doing some non-musical work.
Acting is first love
“Acting comes first for me, more than anything else,” she said. “I could always sing and dance, but I never took lessons. I was just always in musicals and that’s how I learned. I did musicals all the time growing up because that was what combined the three things that I love. But I did a lot of plays and some Shakespeare in college, and I really enjoyed that. I want to do it all, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity of doing some non-musical plays in the future.”
Trumble got her first exposure to “Mary Poppins” by watching the movie version on DVD with her parents. Released by Walt Disney Studios back in 1964, “Mary Poppins” starred Julie Andrews in the title role and Dick Van Dyke as Bert.
“My whole family loves musical theater, and my dad acted a little bit and he would love to do physical comedy,” remembered Trumble. “So, he loved Dick Van Dyke, and we would watch it over and over. I hadn’t seen the movie in quite a while, but I did go back and watch it recently. I think I remember every word, but the stage version is rather different from the movie.”
The movie, based on a series of children’s books by P.L. Travers, won five Oscars and earned eight more nominations, while the staged play, which opened in October of 2006 and is still going, was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It captured one Tony for best scenic design.
The story is based on a magical nanny, Mary Poppins, who is blown by an east wind to Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, London, and into the Banks household to care for the Banks children, Jane and Michael.
“I researched the books and the author, and it seems like Travers did not have an ideal childhood,” said Trumble. “She wrote the books because she had an absent father in her own life, and she was drawing parallels between her life and the Banks children. Hopefully, someone does come into your life and makes everything better. She wrote the story that she had wished for herself. Mary Poppins is the mother figure or the nanny everybody wants.”
As for the music, written by the Sherman brothers (Robert B. and Richard M.), Trumble does have a few favorite numbers.
“I like them all, but I think my favorite is probably ‘Step in Time,’ ” she said. “Every single person is on stage, and it’s such a fun song to do. Also, ‘Feed the Birds’ is a very powerful song. I think it’s one of my favorite Disney tunes.”
Not copying Andrews
Trumble doesn’t try to duplicate Andrews’ portrayal of Mary, but she concedes it’s hard not to use her as a model.
“It kind of happens by default because that movie was such a big part of me growing up,” she said. “You don’t try to copy her, but maybe you do just a bit. It would be too much pressure to try to do it just like Julie Andrews, but if you’re doing ‘Mary Poppins,’ she sort of comes with the territory.”
Con O’Shea-Creal plays Bert in the national touring production. Michael Dean Morgan is Banks, and Elizabeth Broadhurst is Mrs. Banks.