The Fame Reporter interviewed Australian award-winning performer, Jack Chambers. He is starring in the new production of the famous Mary Poppins the Musical at QPAC from October. Jack is touring Australia with the show in the chimney sweeper role of Bert, made famous by Dick Van Dyke in the 1964 film of the same name.
Jack Chambers has starred in stage productions, films and TV programs including Cosmo Brown in Singin in the Rain, Link Larkin in Hairspray the Musical, Burn The Floor, UNTAPPED! and Kurt Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Jack won the first Australian season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, he featured in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ as the Hayride Cowboy, performed with Hugh Jackman in ‘The Man, The Music, The Show’ World Tour 2019, West End LIVE 2013 (London) and more.
We had the exciting opportunity to sit down with the Australian performer Jack Chambers. Jack talked about his experience with Mary Poppins, what he loves about his character Bert, his magical audition process and more.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Jack, what enticed you to want to return to the stage in the Disney classic Mary Poppins and how does it feel to be coming home to Brisbane with this show?
It is such a fabulous show. The first time I saw the stage production was when I was doing Hairspray in Melbourne in 2010. As soon as I heard that it was back it was an amazing opportunity to give Bert a go. I also have always loved the music.
I am super excited to bring the show to Brisbane because I don’t always get to perform back in Brisbane. I usually perform everywhere else but my hometown.
So, I am thrilled to have Brisbane audiences see the show.
Initially what sparked your interest in performing?
I believe it was the influence of my sisters. I have two older sisters and they were already taking dance when I was born so I was surrounded by music and them performing.
There is footage of me in a Super 8 film and I’m in a nappy copying their dance moves quite accurately. My Mum saw that I had some coordination going on, so she said alright lets get him into some dance classes and I have never looked back since.
Then I learnt to sing and act along the way, and I genuinely don’t remember ever wanting to do something else. I feel quite lucky in that way, that it has all worked out.
What enticed you to want to embody this iconic comedic role of Bert and how did you react when you were cast?
I wanted to play Bert because he is a showman in a way. He is a song and dance man and quite charismatic. The fact that he gets the opportunity to tap dance as well.
Bert was ticking all the boxes for me, and I felt like I would be comfortable in trying to play a role like his.
I was super excited to get the role because obviously the audition process was not like normal because of Covid. My first audition was a self-tape then I got a callback via Zoom. After that there was a bit of radio silence for a few months as Sydney went into lockdown because I was in Brisbane at the time. Then my next audition was to fly to London with who they were considering for Mary which was Stef Jones.
We flew to London to do our final audition. The 3rd audition was the first time I got to be in the room face-to-face and work off someone.
The final audition was in front of Cameron McIntosh of all people, so it was quite high stakes. The whole process of going over to London to do the audition on the West End stage where Mary Poppins was performing at the time was amazing.
We also got to watch the show whilst we were in London. That whole experience was exciting, and adrenaline fueled and a very Disney magic type of experience.
So, by the time we came back to Australia we were told we got the role, and it was such a relief because you feel the pressure of them taking you all the way across the world you want to be able to deliver. The moment I heard I got the role I was ecstatic.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Robin Williams.
What have past choreographers or dance teachers taught you and how do you carry that into your career and daily life?
I have always had the mindset of you have to work hard for what you want. I’ll put this into context of auditions and succeeding and getting the role. Lots of people audition for a show and put their all into it and sometimes people can relax once they are cast in a show. Whereas in my mind I still put the same level of effort in.
I want to be able to show that I deserve the role and that I was the right pick. The hard work side of things never stops for me.
One thing for me is the passion. I’ve always been told to remain passionate and if you are no longer enjoying what you are doing in this industry, it is probably best to think of something else.
It is a tough industry and if you don’t have that passion, it can take a toll mentally on people. So, passion and hard work all the way.
What has been the reaction from audiences thus far for the Australian revival?
Joy, laughter and practically perfect. It’s really satisfying to not only hear kids in the audience having a laugh or cheering but it is a show that is very much for adults. It is not only a kids show. Everyone is walking away taking something that is individual to them from the show.
It is usually smiles all round, a few tears here and there. I have heard people getting a bit choked up. It has been a fabulous show for people to escape with.
What is your favourite scene or number in the show choreography-wise?
It is a battle between Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Step in Time. Step in Time wins by just a hair. Also, because I got to have a little bit of input into some of the content of the dance, so the tap solo that I do.
There is an element of structure to the choreography, but it was important to the Creative Team of the show for Stef (Mary Poppins) and I to bring a bit of ourselves to the role. Especially choreographically I got to have a bit of a play and create some stuff as well.
What do you love about working with your star-studded castmates?
The cast is perfection really and truly. You look at everyone and everyone suits their roles to a tee, they are all so passionate and friendly. That is not just the cast, the crew as well.
You don’t always on every show happen to get along with everyone. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone on this show.
So, it is an absolute joy to come to work and put on this production.
Congratulations on all your success, what is one of your proudest achievements and what are some of your future dreams?
It is hard to pinpoint one thing that has been the highlight. Everything that I have done has been quite different from each other. So, I think everything I have been able to accomplish thus far has been a proud moment for me and that I will always remember.
To be honest doing Mary Poppins is a big one for me because it is my first time being a leading man. While I have been principal roles in other musicals, they have been considered male supporting roles.
So, this is my first time being the leading man. That does have a little extra special meaning behind it.
What can audiences look forward to when they come and see ‘Mary Poppins’ at QPAC?
For our adults there is a bit of nostalgia with the show. You hear the very well-known and famous songs. Then some beautiful new numbers as well that I almost feel like they already existed.
The orchestration in the show is just stunning. I wish I had a soundtrack of just the instrumental tracks because it is just so beautiful.
There is a lot of colour, on-stage magic and a very special show for the people of Brisbane.
Fame Reporter Word Play
Favourite mantra when you are down
Be true to oneself and listen to music
The Sound of Music
Kurt Von Trapp
Favourite Mary Poppins song
Chim Chim Cher-ee (Reprise) the duet with Mary on the rooftop or Jolly Holiday
Savoury or Sweet
Dressing Room necessity
Singin’ in the Rain
TV Show Binge
Finally, favourite thing about performing
The audience response. It is wonderful to perform, I feel in my element and right at home, but the reward of an audience reaction is very satisfying.
Thank-you Jack for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for Mary Poppins at QPAC and the Australian tour!
Sydney Lyric Theatre
Currently playing until 9 October
Lyric Theatre, QPAC
From 22 October 2022
Her Majesty’s Theatre
From 29 January 2023
Booking through to 2 April 2023
All photos and videos – Supplied