Age and hometown: 34, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Current role: Flouncing into her Broadway debut as the fickle Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest.
The Kindness of Strangers: After Sara Topham graduated from the University of Victoria, the former Drama and English major moved to Toronto knowing absolutely no one. “It was really an ‘ignorance is bliss’ kind of thing,” she says of her brave move, but with the help of a kind opera singer from whom she rented a room, she landed an agent and acting work within months of arriving. Her parents, she jokingly remembers, “were concerned, like the parents of any performer, that I would be able to support myself.” Yet within the year, she found herself at Canada’s illustrious Stratford Festival, where she has performed for the last 11 seasons.
Going to Bat for Stratford: It was at Stratford that Topham met her Earnest director and leading “lady,” Brian Bedford, who plays Lady Bracknell in the production. “Brian says we’re all quite mad,” the doe-eyed Topham says of the characters in Earnest, “and he’s right, but I do adore Gwendolyn.” Her favorite line? “I never change, except in my affections!” she recites in Gwendolyn’s delightfully aristocratic accent. “She’s so different from me, but once I let her take me over she’s so much fun to play,” Topham says.
Meeting Mary Poppins: Her new Broadway career is keeping Topham away from home and her husband, a fourth grade teacher, at the moment, but the pair spent a special New York Christmas together, thanks to Tony-nominated Broadway darling Gavin Creel. “He loaned me his Christmas ornaments,” Topham exclaims, of her Eloise at Christmastime film co-star. Another very special co-star in that film was her childhood idol, Julie Andrews. “The first time I saw her we were in different ends of a makeup trailer,” Topham remembers, “and I couldn’t say anything because I just started to cry.” When the two did meet several days later, “I held it together,” Topham beams, “but my face hurt from smiling so hard.” In the end, they bonded over being bookworms. “We’re both crazy about children’s books,” the actress says. “We talked about a book called The Paper Bag Princess, my favorite book of all time, and she sent me a note later saying how much she loved it. She’s generous and lovely. She’s everything you hope she’ll be.”