Mary Poppins The Musical: Q&A with Minnesota Native Elizabeth Ann Berg

Updated: 02/18/2014 9:58 AM By: Sarina Long


A made up word meaning I remember singing to myself as a child yet having nightmares about it as I envisioned myself at a spelling bee.  The word was playfully created by the Sherman Brothers and became one of the most familiar songs in the 1964 Disney classic, Mary Poppins.

I had a chance to speak with Minnesota-native, Elizabeth Ann Berg who plays Katie Nanna, also understudy of Miss Andrew, Bird Woman, and Mrs. Brill on the show's North American tour.

What can the audience expect?

A show about family, love, really fun dance numbers with a little bit of magic thrown in.

Were you a fan of Mary Poppins growing up? How do you feel being a part of this show?

It's really wonderful to be a part of a show that brings so much happiness to so many people. It's most rewarding when you leave the stage door and see all the children who really believe in Mary Poppins.

Who was your biggest influence?

My parents and my family have played a huge role in my life. My sister and brother performed in musicals growing up and that made me want to do just what they did. I grew up watching  Annie and when I got a little bit older, Chorus Line.

My voice teachers and my directors were a huge influence growing up. I don't think any performer can move forward in this business unless they have a mentor, someone telling them you can do this, and you have potential. They taught me all this in high school. You need someone to motivate you. They taught me everything I know and are definitely a huge influence on why I'm here today.

My director and choir teacher at SPA were amazing, I've known since I was 10. They are a huge part of my life. I see them every time I come into town.

At Macphail I had a wonderful voice teacher who completely changed my voice, her name is Manon Gimlett. I would recommend her to anybody who wants to pursue being a soprano.

Children's Theatre, Matthew Howe taught me how to feel onstage. He taught me how to live in the moment and really be the character I was playing.

Note: For a complete list of the many influential people and for more information on Elizabeth's background and career thus far, visit

What have you learned about yourself on this tour? What kind of feedback do you get?

Being in the environment of actors has really taught me a lot. The words of wisdom I'm constantly hearing are, "Keep pushing; keep trying; keep going; never give up." When I see my family members, directors, and teachers after the show they have nothing but positive things to say. For all of them it's incredible to see me up there. They're so supportive.

What advice do you have for anyone pursuing acting?

Pursue it with all your might. Hone your craft. Be confident. Walk into an audition, a workshop knowing you are enough. Your performance is enough.

Favorite cities visited so far?

Hidden gem cities: Spokane, Washington was so sweet. Also, Greenville,South Carolina.

Big city: New Orleans because it's filled with so much history. It's amazing.

I really love Madison because it made me feel at home.

When you know family and friends are in the audience, how does that make you feel?

It makes me very excited. I'm thrilled that my family has been able visit multiple times. They've seen me perform a lot of the roles that I understudy. It's definitely nerve wracking. I get butterflies in the beginning, but once I get over that it's just a wonderful sense of accomplishment. I love being able to show my parents, my sister, brother, and brother-in-law how much their support has helped me get where I am today. I'm actually doing what they always wanted me to do. It's really amazing when they're in the audience.

Favorite scene in this musical?

I've always loved "Anything Can Happen." It's towards the end of the show, when all the characters come back and are dancing around Mary and the kids and they're in the heavens. Mary teaches them a lesson that anything can happen if you let it. Its all about dreaming and reaching for the stars.

As cheesy as it sounds, it really got me teary at first because it's the story of actors and what me and all of my friends are going through. We're still reaching for the stars; we're still pursuing our dreams. Every single night when we sing that song, its a message coming from the characters and also the actors because that's why we're up there. We reached for the stars.

What are you most excited to do, eat, explore with friends when you are back in town in a few weeks?

Oh, I'm so excited and can't wait to come home! I loved growing up in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I talk about it all the time. I have a list of things I'm taking people to do. My favorite thing to do when I'm home is to go to Grand Avenue. I love Corepower Yoga, Bread & Chocolate. I love walking around Crocus Hill and visiting the little shops.

I'm most looking forward to the cheesecake at Cafe Latte!

I've been on this tour for a year and three months. I get so excited talking about coming home. Anytime I have there is precious.

Disney Theatrical Productions and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, combining the original stories of P.L. Travers with beloved songs from the 1964 Walt Disney film, returns to Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Orpheum Theatre on April 23 through the 28th.  Original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Book by Julian Fellowes. New songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Directed by Richard Eyre and Matthew Bourne (choreographer). Co-choreographer, Stephen Mear. Sets and costumes, Bob Crowley; lighting, Howard Harrison; sound, Steve Canyon Kennedy; music director, William David Brohn; music supervisor, David Caddick. For ticket information, visit or call 1.800.982.2787.

Sarina Long is an entertainment reporter for Follow her on twitter @sarinaBL.