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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

March 31, 2016

Meet the Actor Behind the Iconic Role of Bert

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:31 am

Nathan_Burke_Headshot

 

Q1: How familiar were you with “Mary Poppins” before starting this rehearsal process?

I’ve definitely seen the movie before. But it’s been so long, I honestly don’t remember. But I saw the show on Broadway in 2007 and it was absolutely stunning. “Step In Time” is a particularly unforgettable number and I’ll probably remember seeing Bert’s proscenium walk for the rest of my life.

It’s also been very helpful to be able to peruse the collection of P.L. Travers’s stories that my fellow cast member Carin (Mary Poppins) has. It’s made piecing together backstories and motivation for Bert much easier and certainly enjoyable.

 

Q2: What’s it like playing the iconic role of Bert?

Bert is challenging for an actor like me, who feels more comfortable and effective in roles where the character is more subdued and possibly cerebral, as Bert is very extroverted and expressive; a true jack of all trades. That’s not to say he doesn’t have quite a lot going on underneath, but he’s certainly comfortable in his own skin and not afraid to lead a parade through the park or dance across the rooftops. It’s exciting and challenging because it forces me to be someone quite unlike myself, which I think is always valuable for a performer.

 

Q3: What’s been your favorite moment of this entire rehearsal process with “Mary Poppins”?

It’s probably a tie between the production numbers “Jolly Holiday” and “Step In Time”! Both of these numbers are so exciting to perform in! Though really any moment in the show where the ensemble is greatly involved and we get to re-rehearse, each time finding different ways to connect and play off of each other, is really, really fun, and I think what makes the show memorable.

 

Q4: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m a Texan, through and through. I was born in Midland, TX, home of oil and high school football, and moved to Keller, right outside of Ft. Worth, just before I turned six. Keller is where I grew up and the place I call home.

 

Q5: Where did you recently graduate from college?

I went to Ole Miss in Oxford, MS, and graduated in May 2015 with a BFA in Musical Theatre. I owe much of my development in performance, including my studying habits as an actor, my voice training, and my discovery of my love of tap (really the only sort of dance I think I do very well at all) to their wonderful theatre department and staff.

 

Q6: What are some of your favorite past roles you’ve played?

In high school, I got to play Bat Boy in “Bat Boy: The Musical”, and it’s the first role I played in a musical where I discovered what I wanted to do with my life, so it has a very fond place in my heart. I also played Clive Paget/John Jasper in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at Ole Miss which was a BLAST. He’s just so silly and dark. It’s a role I hope I get to play again.

Weirdly enough, I also really enjoy working with puppets. I was in a production of “Avenue Q” with Ghostlight Repertory Theatre, a student-run group on the Ole Miss campus, where I got to play Nicky, Trekkie Monster and a Bad Idea Bear, and lent a hand in helping construct the puppets. That’s a production I’m very proud to have been a part of. Also, getting to control the Audrey II puppets in “Little Shop of Horrors” for Charleston Stage this past fall was one of my favorite experiences.

 

Q7: Are you excited about flying, tap dancing upside down in “Mary Poppins”?

More than anything. I absolutely can’t wait. I’m also very much looking forward to seeing and hearing the crowd react. I’m hoping it’ll give them an experience they’ll never forget.

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” runs April 6 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

Bert1

Featured: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Nathan Burke as Bert.

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Featured Left to Right: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actors Carin Lagerberg as Mary Poppins and Nathan Burke as Bert.

 

 

 

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