Sheen’s keen on meeting Julie Andrews’ standards

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Caroline Sheen, star of the DCPA’s currently running, “Mary Poppins,” finds that her second U.S. stop on her national tour of the production, is experiencing some regional elements.

Beyond the altitude issues that affect many a touring vocalist, shortly after Sheen hit the Denver stage, she caught a cold. “We were warned about the altitude,” she says in her cheeky and charming British accent. “And now I have a cold. A congested nose is more painful in Denver than anywhere else. But the truth is that now it’s fine.”

That’s excellent news for this musical actress whose Poppins interpretation has been deemed “the perfect embodiment of the outwardly prim nanny with the free-thinking mind” in the UK, and “surprisingly deep and groundbreaking … practically perfect, in every way” in the U.S.

Sheen says that the story and the message are timeless and ageless and that’s why The Buell is packed with Mary Poppins lovers, young and old alike. “‘Mary Poppins resonates with all ages,” she says. “It has such heart and soul and an everlasting message that, no matter what, whether you’re a chimney sweep or a banker, if you have love, family and friendship, you’re the richest person in the world.

“We all need to be reminded of that and when we are reminded,” she adds, “it puts a bigger spring in our step.”

When she says it, you can’t help but believe it.

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This is Sheen’s first U.S. tour. She was born in Wales, has appeared on stage in other leading roles in the West End and UK, including the Light in the Piazza, A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang, Grease, and Les Miserables, among other productions.

The production pulls off a memorable technical feat when Mary Poppins glides out over the audience, which, for some might seem scary or troublesome. But Sheen says that it’s almost serene. “We did this back in the UK version,” she says.” But even though it’s exactly the same show here in Denver as it is back home, I take different journeys during that part because in every theater there’s a different building structure.

“I actually find it lovely,” she adds. “I just hang there and look serene. It’s one of the nicest parts of the show.”

Bringing Mary Poppins to a world that thinks of Julie Andrews in the part is not daunting to Sheen. “Julie Andrews inspires me,” she says. “She’s my favorite diva and I think she’s got such a strong imprint on the character. Our production is from books and films and so there’s a bit more edge to it.

“But If I can come even close to her impact with the character,” she says, “I’ll be thrilled.”

On a Monday off, Sheen was looking forward to seeing Denver. “I plan to pop outside, maybe go to the zoo,” she says, “and have a look around and pretend I’m on holiday.”

“Mary Poppins” runs through April 4 at The Buell Theater. Visit www.dcpa.org for further information.

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