Disney on Broadway Update: Mary Poppins

Aussie Adam Fiorentino Is Walking on Air as the New Bert
Adam Interview

Aussie Adam Fiorentino is making his Broadway debut as the new Bert, the multi-talented chimney sweep in MARY POPPINS.

He was offered his first professional gig in the ensemble of the touring production of the Peter Allen musical The Boy From Oz.

The actor toured around Australia in productions of Cats, Grease, Mamma Mia!, Footloose and Leader of the Pack, and the stage adaptation of Saturday Night Fever in which he played the John Travolta role of Tony Manero. He was invited to take his Boogie Shoes to London where he reprised the role in the West End production.

But he has reached the high point of his career – literally and figuratively – playing Bert, the “Chim-Chim-Cheree”-singing sweep who helps Mary Poppins save the troubled Banks family of 17 Cherry Tree Lane in the Disney/Cameron Macintosh show.

Bert literally flips for Mary. Among his many daring special effects is dancing upside-down on the three-story proscenium of Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre at the climax of the song “Step in Time.”

The New Amsterdam’s resident choreographer Tom Kosis said he trained Fiorentino on a special ten-foot-high practice rig. “He had to learn how to tap without using his weight,” Kosis said. “Tapping upside down is not like tapping on the stage. You have to flip your ankles. It’s much more like drumming.”

“I was never really terrified,” Fiorentino said, “because I’ve done bungee jumping in the past.” He also said he has complete trust in the show’s designers and the stagehands of the New Amsterdam. But there’s something more that helps keep him aloft. “It’s the excitement and the buzz you get from the audience.”

How about magic? Clearly Mary Poppins is magical. But what about Bert?

“Bert is a human being who is able to perform magic when Mary is around,” Fiorentino said. “He helps facilitate some of Mary’s lessons. In order to do that he is able to use magic. He loses those powers when she goes away. He’s got a very deep connection with Mary. When Mary goes, it’s a really sad time for him.”

Fiorentino does have one love story with a decidedly happy ending: his love affair with New York City. The first time he heard the word “Broadway” was when he was 6 or 7. He and his mother used to watch movies on TV together every Sunday, and when the classic film musical On the Town was shown, Fiorentino was hooked. The story of sailors on a 24-hour leave in Manhattan showed them, “running around New York. And I thought: I want to be there! For me, that’s where everything happened.”

Fiorentino also plays the recurring role of Simon on the ABC daytime drama, All My Children.

Mary Poppins

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