Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sydney Opera House :: Destination NSW presents A Conversation with Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton

“What was it like to kiss Christopher Plummer who played Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music?", an audience member asked Julie Andrews today at the Sydney Opera House’s special event presented by Destination NSW, A Conversation with Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. Julie Andrews replied, "Delicious!" Someone needs to put that on the menu!

What an extraordinary sensation to be in the same room today as Oscar winning actress, stage performer, singer, entertainer, author, theatre director and one of the world's leading lady of live performance, Dame Julie Andrews. We were treated to many insights and stories of Julie Andrew’s personal life and there were no shortage of good laughs from that conversation. For about 2 hours we watched montages of Julie Andrew’s career in performances and listened to a conversation with Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton who also shared personal stories and insights into their careers.

Julie Andrews is here in Sydney, Australia for her new musical, My Fair Lady which she directed and it was that film that originally casted her as Eliza Doolittle in the Broadway and London productions. My Fair Lady will be on at the Sydney Opera House that previews on 30 August 2016 followed by a gala opening night on 6 September 2016 until 30 October 2016.

One of the most memorable stories she told today about her life was how she met, for those who have seen My Fair Lady, a real Eliza Doolittle back in London when she was 12 years old and about to audition for a role which became her first debut performance. Julie's mother saw a girl selling flowers outside the theatre where Julie was to audition and said to Julie Andrews, "I will buy you some flowers for good luck." The girl with the flowers said in a Cockney accent "Watcha need luck for?" Her mother pointed to the billboard with Julie's small print name on the board and said her daughter hopes to be big on stage one day. The flower girl said, "You'll buy her no flowers ‘cause I'm giving you these flowers for luck!" and handed her a bunch of violets. What an extraordinary story and for it to be reflected in the story of My Fair Lady some years later.

Another interesting story Julie Andrews told us today was how she got the role in the Walt Disney film, Mary Poppins. Julie told us the story of how Walt Disney was in the audience for one of her performances, Camelot one day, and Walt Disney requested to see her backstage. Walt Disney went to her dressing room and told Julie that he was working on a new production and would like her to be in the role and whether Julie would be interested in going to Los Angeles to see the drawings for Mary Poppins. Unfortunately, Julie Andrews had to decline Walt Disney’s offer because she told him she was pregnant at the time with Emma. Walt Disney said that wasn’t a problem and that the production can wait until after the birth. After Julie Andrews gave birth, she took her family to LA to started to prepare for role of Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews was very grateful for Walt Disney’s patience and understanding and if it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t know the film, Mary Poppins for what it is today.

Later in her career, Julie Andrews worked together with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton “as an equal” as Julie described it as critically acclaimed best-selling authors and television creators and producers. Together they have published 30 books and created several television projects committed to stimulating a sense of wonder and learning in children. A question asked by an audience member was “What advice would you give young women writers who are starting out in their careers?” Emma’s response to the questions was, “Read as much as possible and learn from reading” and the second was answered by Julie, “Do your homework” and be ready as you never known when an opportunity arises and normally “opportunity arises when you least expect it”.

This was such a rare and special event hosted by Destination NSW and the Sydney Opera House and I am grateful to Destination NSW for the opportunity to attend.

For more information on how to get tickets to My Fair Lady showing at the Sydney Opera House, go to

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