Gavin sweeps up in new West End role

GAVIN Lee is preparing to tackle the tongue-twister supercalifragilisticexpialidocious after landing a lead role in the new West End stage version of Mary Poppins.

GAVIN Lee is preparing to tackle the tongue-twister supercalifragilisticexpialidocious after landing a lead role in the new West End stage version of Mary Poppins.

The 32-year-old actor, from Woodbridge, has signed up to play chimneysweep Bert in the musical, the role made famous by Dick Van Dyke in the 1964 film starring Julie Andrews.

He has spoken of his delight at securing his first major lead, which comes in a multi-million pound musical from top London producer Cameron Mackintosh and entertainment giant Disney.

"This is big news for me. It's an original part and I will be creating the role, which is fantastic," he said.


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"I'm delighted. I've been in the business for about 14 years now, so its about time I got a lead role.

"The auditions started in November and I had about three recalls, and then waited two months and had two more auditions this month. But it was worth it – it's a great part."

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Lee, who has appeared in stage shows including Chicago, Oklahoma, Crazy For You and Peggy Sue Got Married, admitted he's still got some research to do before he belts on his braces and breezes on his stage with his battered chimney brush.

"I've only just watched Marry Poppins all the way through for the first time. I had seen bits of it at Christmas, like everyone has, but since I got the part I had been inundated with friends saying 'you've got to see it'.

"Now I've seen it, I really like it, although it's adapted from the book rather than the film so there are some differences in the stage version. I'm sure I can do a better Cockney accent than Dick Van Dyke."

The stage star, who went to Woodbridge's Kingston Middle School and Farlingaye High School, caught the acting bug after joining the town's Company of Four amateur dramatics group, based at the Riverside Theatre.

He appeared in a West End production of Bugsy Malone when he was just 11 and went to Bird Theatre College in Sidcup, Kent, after leaving school. He has since clocked up more than a dozen stage shows and appeared on film and TV. Lee recently spent a week in Berlin working on a film about the life of singing star Bobby Darin, Beyond The Sea, which stars Kevin Spacey.

But his next project promises to be his best. Rehearsals start in July and the show will spend a couple of months at the Bristol Hippodrome before its big opening at the Prince Edward Theatre in December. His mother, Kathleen, from Pettistree, near Wickham Market, and sister Penny, who still lives in Woodbridge, will be the proudest members of the sell-out audience.

"It's tough in this business and you have to stick at it. So many people who I went to college with have given up and gone and done different things.

"I'm so pleased to have got this role and it will be a great show with lots of special effects and magic. July can't come quickly enough."

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