Smith making history in ‘Mary Poppins’

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Q. Smith is excited to be making her debut as Mrs. Corry in the Broadway musical, “Mary Poppins.”

The show will be performed on the Benedum Center stage from Jan.5-23.

“Mary Poppins” tells the adventures of a magical nanny who comes to work for a cold banker’s family and teaches the children and their parents the meaning of putting people before material things in one’s life. Main characters in the production were Mr. George Banks, his wife, Winifred and their children, Michael and Jane.

MaryPoppinsCast
THE CAST—The “Mary Poppins” cast with Q. Smith center, orange dress.

“Everyone can understand the importance of family and love really does conquer all. When you lack love, you lack everything,” Smith said. “It sounds corny, but people can relate to it. This show is multi-generational and it’s for all colors because the importance of family has no color.”

The concept of Mary Poppins started out as a series of children’s books penned by P.L. Travers and illustrated by Mary Shepard. Mary Poppins encounters chimney sweeps, shop keepers and various other scenarios until she leaves.

A film adaptation of the book was written by Bill Walsh and Don Da Gradi and released in 1964 to critical acclaim. It starred Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Banks. The film won five Oscars and numerous other awards.

Soon after Disney came calling,  a fusion between the book and the film was born. In 2006, “Mary Poppins” began running on Broadway to critical acclaim.

Smith is the first African-American to play a significant role in the show since it began its Broadway run.

“I didn’t grow up on the film so I didn’t know there was no representation of us,” said Smith whose birth name is Quianna Smith. “I do like to open people’s eyes and challenge people.”

Smith will be playing the character of Mrs. Corry, an old woman who sells the Banks children gingerbread stars. She originated the role two years ago while on tour.

In addition to Mrs. Corry, Smith will also be playing the role of Miss Andrew, a character introduced in the 1998 book, “Mary Poppins and the House Next Door.” Miss Andrew is Mr. Banks’ childhood nanny who is very stern and unpleasant.

Smith will be debuting the role of Mrs. Andrew half way through the production’s run at the Benedum Center.

“Mrs. Corry and Mrs. Andrew are totally opposites and it’s exciting to play these two characters.” Smith said. “I love children and I love happy things.”

Smith, who has 14 nieces and nephews, hails from Nebraska but currently resides in New York City. She began her theatrical career after seeing “Les Miserables” as a child.

“I don’t remember the show. But I remember that I was in 10th grade and I knew that acting was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I remember this deep feeling that I got on the inside of me that I couldn’t shake,” she recalled.

Smith got her start in the arts singing in church, holding down the alto section. Soon after she performed in the ensemble of “Dreamgirls” and later took on the role of Effie White in the show. She has performed in numerous other shows including “Les Miserables.”

“I’m excited that all of this has led up to me playing in “Mary Poppins.” I didn’t know I’d be here. This is a dream come true. This is a business and it’s very fickle and you never know where you are going to land. Having this role has given me faith and hope,” she said.

After “Mary Poppins,” Smith plans on spending some time back packing in Europe and getting reconnected with current events, politics and her beliefs.

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