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Mary Poppins - Broadway

Former Real-Life Nanny Steffanie Leigh on Flying to Her Broadway Debut in Mary Poppins

Former Real-Life Nanny Steffanie Leigh on Flying to Her Broadway Debut in Mary Poppins
Steffanie Leigh photographed by Jenny Anderson at Cafe Lalo for Broadway.com
The creative team has been very giving in letting me create my own Mary.

Age & Hometown: 24; Talent, OR

Current Role: Making her Broadway debut as the “practically perfect” title nanny in Mary Poppins

On the Road: Growing up near the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Leigh was exposed to the arts at an early age and traveled east to major in musical theater at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduation and a brief stint in New York, she was summoned to Florida to join the Mary Poppins national tour as an ensemble member and understudy to the title role. “My cast used to celebrate everything imaginable,” Leigh says of keeping life on the road interesting. “I even won our 'Guac Off' on National Guacamole Day.” After a year and a half of understudy duties, Leigh received the magical offer to play Mary on Broadway.

The Nanny Diaries: “It’s a big role to live up to,” Leigh says of the character that earned Julie Andrews an Oscar for the original 1964 film. “The creative team has been very giving in letting me create my own Mary. She’s so full of love and life, and she teaches this family a new way of seeing the world. I grew up watching Mary Poppins, so having the responsibility to bring the character to life for a new generation of kids is an honor.” Leigh even has a some real-life nanny experience, having cared for a one-year-old and three-year-old before joining the tour. “It gave me some insight into how difficult kids can be,” she says with a laugh, “but they were so cute.”

Broadway Baby: With only a one-week break after departing the Mary Poppins tour, Leigh is still getting settled into her new life as a Broadway headliner. “I don’t feel like I can really call myself a New Yorker yet, but I can finally set up a schedule and have a sense of normalcy,” she says. The young actress found an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where she’s living with her boyfriend of five years, South Pacific veteran Robert Lenzi. “It’s so nice not to be doing long distance anymore,” she says of their reunion. “That’s the best part of being back!”

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