Part-time Hebrew teacher takes to stage in ‘Mary Poppins’


Mary Poppins, that famous nanny who sprang from the pen of P.L. Travers and then was celebrated in the classic 1964 Walt Disney film, brings her bottomless carpetbag–and that unusual umbrella–to the Fox Theatre this week. Performing in the show will be an all-singing, all-dancing, part-time Hebrew instructor who has taught Judaic School.

Geoffrey Goldberg, 25, also is an accomplished photographer and his resume notes that he is adept at sight singing, harmony, piano, guitar, fire eating, cartwheels, stage combat and British, Cockney and Southern accents.

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Fire eating?

“I was Sparky in a production of Forever Plaid, and we had to cover for one another from time to time, so we all had to learn to eat fire for the Ed Sullivan sequence,” explained Goldberg in a phone interview from Cleveland, where the national tour of Mary Poppins played before coming to the Fox.

And the cartwheels? “Oh, you just pick those up along the way,” he said.

Goldberg is a member of the ensemble in Mary Poppins, and he is delighted to be in the production. “This is my favorite show,” he said. “Everyone in the company is great — really nice and really talented — and the production is fabulous. Every night when we get a standing ovation, I realize that I am part of something that is really special, something fun for everyone.”

Mary Poppins opened on Broadway on Nov. 16, 2006 and recently celebrated its 1000th performance at the New Amsterdam Theatre in Manhattan. Some 1.6 million theatergoers have seen the show on Broadway, and the national tour is booked through the end of next April, booked in cities across the country.

Previously, Goldberg toured with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and 42nd Street. With the latter, he spent five months performing in China and four months in Korea. In New York, he performed in a benefit concert production of On the Town. Goldberg earned a bachelor of fine arts degree at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Goldberg has studied voice and acting, and he has extensive training in tap, ballet and jazz. “Tap is my favorite,” he said. (For details, see “I always knew what I wanted to do. I started dancing when I was 6, and acting when I was 12.”

He grew up outside Philadelphia, the son of Dale and Mark Goldberg. He is a project manager for a computer company; she is a social worker. “My mother also is a singer and a pianist, so we always had music and singing in the house,” said Goldberg. His older brother is a lawyer.

The family has always been “really involved” with Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen, Pa., where Dale Goldberg taught and played music. Goldberg often accompanied his mother during services, and he also took part in productions at the synagogue and in local shows. “For me, Jewish life and artistic life were always intertwined,” he said.

While attending a private Hebrew high school, Goldberg earned a Reform Judaism teaching certificate and taught at his home synagogue. “That was a natural continuation of where my Jewish education was going,” said Goldberg. “In college, I still taught classes on a substitute basis from time to time at three or four synagogues in Manhattan. On the road, of course, that just doesn’t work out.”

Goldberg noted that half the fun of touring is going to different cities. “We’ll be in a city sometimes for a month, and you can get a taste for a place, really experience it. Our days are free, except for days when we have matinees,” he said. “I have not been to St. Louis, but I have heard good things from cast members who have performed at the Muny.”

Because the current Mary Poppins tour stretches far into the future, Goldberg has not given a lot of thought to what he might like to do next. “I have done a smattering of chorus roles and a smattering of principal roles, and in general, I would like to do more principal roles down the road,” he said. “But Mary Poppins is exactly what I want to do right now.”

Mary Poppins

WHEN: Aug. 13-30

WHERE: Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard

HOW MUCH: $28-$75

MORE INFO: See or or call 314-534-1111.