Love of dance leads to Bert

A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Broadway show is about to open in Costa Mesa.

The beloved 1964 Disney film "Mary Poppins" has been remade into a wildly successful musical, and features all of the same characters: disobedient Jane and Michael Banks; their well-intentioned mother and strict father; their titular magical nanny; and the enigmatic jack-of-all-trades Bert, who introduces them to London's chimney sweeps.

Canadian-born Nicolas Dromard was born to "Step in Time" as Bert.

"I started dancing when I was 6 years old," Dromard said. "I saw a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, and I basically just started tap dancing in the hallway of my school. My teacher called my mom and said, 'Get this kid in some dance classes, because he's driving us crazy.'"

So she did, enrolling him at the Greta Leeming Studio of Dance. Dromard soon found himself performing in community theatre performances like "Anne of Green Gables" and continuing to perform in dance recitals and competitions.

At 18, Dromard found himself in New York for one such competition. While he was there, he heard that auditions were being held for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in Branson. One thing led to another, and he ended up dancing with the Rockettes.

From there, Dromard said he returned to Canada to perform in "West Side Story" at the prestigious Stratford Festival, then joined the North American pre-Broadway premiere cast of "Mamma Mia!" He then began performing in musical theater around the country.

Dromard spent time in the chorus and understudied for Bert in the Broadway production of "Mary Poppins" before joining the San Francisco production of "Wicked" as Fiyero. Then, he said, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to play Bert in the "Mary Poppins" touring production.

"I've been very fortunate, and very lucky," Dromard said. "'Mary Poppins' is a beautiful show. I've always been a fan of the movie."

Dromard consciously chose to create his own interpretation of Bert, rather than to mimic past representations by Dick Van Dyke in the film or Gavin Lee in the touring production, adding that the director encouraged the cast to do so.

"The most challenging part is living out of a suitcase," Dromard said of touring. "Every three weeks you have to set up in a new city. But you also get to see so many new places; it's really great. It also can be challenging to maintain personal relationships, but you can do it, and it's a great experience."

He hopes to return to New York to further his Broadway career, but for now is enjoying the moment — a key take-away from the musical, he said.

"The show itself is so beautiful," Dromard said. "It shows that you can do anything if you put your heart to it. That's really the lesson that Mary Poppins comes in and teaches. You have to live in the moment, and really enjoy what life brings you right now instead of what life will bring you in the future."

If You Go

What: "Mary Poppins"

When: July 14 to Aug. 7

Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: $22.50 and up


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