On March 5th, the Voice Health Institute (VHI) held its 15th annual Raise Your Voice gala at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. The not-for-profit organization focuses on education, outreach, and research regarding voice loss, voice restoration, and breathing impairments. At this year’s gala, VHI honored its honorary chairwoman, beloved singer and actress Dame Julie Andrews, who is best known for her roles as Mary Poppins, Maria von Trapp (“Sound of Music”), Queen Clarisse Renaldo (“Princess Diaries”), and more.
Beyond The Stage had the opportunity to ask Andrews a few questions about vocal health, the new “Mary Poppins” film, and the 53th anniversary of the “Sound of Music”. See what she had to say below!
Beyond The Stage: Why is it important for you to speak out about vocal health?
Julie Andrews: [It’s important to be at the Raise Your Voice Gala] because for all of us, we use our voices. Vocal health is unbelievably important, so many people don’t think about it. We take them for granted, if we weren’t able to speak or use our voices, then where would we be? When you think about it, to have cancer, to be a child that’s had a tracheal tube placed down his throat because it couldn’t breath. To be a teacher or an auditor who speaks, or a clergymen – they all use their voices and without them, it would be an extremely difficult thing to do their work. I’m just trying to focus more attention on that and how important it is to keep a voice healthy.
BTS: What do you want others to know about the Voice Health Institute and vocal health issues?
JA: The man who’s in charge of it, Steven Zeitels, is a genius. He lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps vocal health. I don’t know anybody that’s better, and he cares enormously. I think people that are lucky enough to find him are in very very good hands.
BTS: Did Emily Blunt get in touch with you to ask for advice on playing Mary Poppins?
JA: No, I admire her enormously. It’s wonderful that she’s the new Poppins. [The new movie] is not a remake, it’s a brand new film based on all the other stories. But, I wish her well. I admire her and have met her, and she’s lovely.
BTS: Did you get to watch the trailer that premiered during the Oscars?
JA: It was very brief, but I wanted more!
BTS: Have you seen any more of the footage [from the movie]?
JA: No, not yet. I’ve just been letting them do their thing.
BTS: But you’ll definitely go and see it?
JA: Oh, are you kidding? Of course.
BTS: This week in 1965, “Sound Of Music” premiered, how does that feel looking back and how did it change your career?
JA: “Mary Poppins” and “Sound of Music” really [changed my career]. It was amazing, I had made three films— “Mary Poppins”, “The Americanization of Emily”, and “Sound of Music”— not one of them had been released. I was having this lovely time playing in the sandbox and making movies and suddenly they were released. Lucky me!