1. Mary Poppins, the stage show.
2. Terry Gross, host of Public Radio's Fresh Air.
3. Conan O'Brien, late night comic, ambassador of redheads the world over.
What could they possibly have in common?
Nothing, I thought. But two weeks ago, we went to see Mary Poppins at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. "Amazing" doesn't cover it. The story is much more developed, as it's based off of the actual Mary Poppins books.
So, I did a little poking around on the internet. (Of course, on my break! Why do you ask?) Did you know that the author, PL Travers, wrote EIGHT Mary Poppins books, between 1935 - 1988? I sure didn't.
Interesting facts about Pamela Travers, the author of Mary Poppins:
- Her father was a failed banker and died when she was seven years old.
- She never married.
- She adopted a little boy, Camillus, when she was 40 years old. All seven children from one Irish family were up for adoption, and Camillus was a twin. She did not adopt his twin brother, Anthony.
- Camillus and Anthony, according to the NY Times, ran into each other in a London pub at age 17.
Now, Terry Gross wrote a book, published in 2004, called "All I Did Was Ask." It's a compilation of the many interviews she's done over this years for Fresh Air, this book focusing on the entertainers. One chapter particularly grabbed my attention.
"Mom, Dad, I Want To Be a Tap Dancer." -- Conan O'Brien
O'Brien: "I would watch these movies like Yankee Doodle Dandy with Jimmy Cagney, and he's singing and tap-dancing. I thought if you want to be in show business, you've got to be able to tell a joke, put a song across, but most importantly, you have to be able to break into a ten-minute tap dance at any moment. So I went to my parents and said, "I've got to take tap dancing lessons." ... They hooked me up with a guy named Stanley Brown. He was this older black gentleman who had been the protege of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, the great tap dancer, who'd been in all those Shirley Temple movies... My dad would drop me off on his way to work Saturday mornings... I would walk up this rickety, old ten flights of steps into his dance studio. And it would be all 24-year-old black men and women, and then one orange-haired, freckled kid sitting there, holding his shoes in a box."
Terry Gross: "Did you have a nice sense of rhythm when you were nine?"
O'Brien: "Since we're on radio, I'll just say, yes, I did. And by the way, I"m extremely handsome right now, for those of you who can't see me."
So, when Mary Poppins hit Broadway, of course, it had to make the talk-show circuit rounds too. Of all the song-dance numbers to choose from, what do you think Conan O'Brien requested for his show? The one and only tap-dance number of the show, Step In Time. Enjoy. We sure did!