Mary Poppins star Rachel Wallace says New Zealand has "absolutely" lived up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Singer and actress Wallace told TV ONE's Breakfast today how "green and lush and alive this country is" and says she hopes to see more of New Zealand during her stay.
Before arriving in Auckland for an 11-week run of Mary Poppins at the Civic Theatre, Wallace met Richard Sherman, the legendary composer of the Mary Poppins score, who told her: "You are going to love New Zealand. It's one of the most beautiful countries I've ever been to".
Wallace said what she has managed to see of New Zealand - in between performing the musical eight times a week - has "absolutely" lived up to Sherman's account.
"That's certainly been my experience so far," she said. "I can't wait to get out and see more of it."
Wallace and her co-star Matt Lee, who plays Bert, told Breakfast co-host Rawdon Christie how much they love performing Mary Poppins at the Civic.
"The theatre lends itself beautifully to interacting with the audience," said Wallace.
"It's a huge, glorious house but it feels very intimate, which is a real privilege with this show because it really is an exchange between the audience and the performers."
In contrast to some musicals, Wallace and Lee agree that they never get sick of performing the songs and music of Mary Poppins, and believe the popularity of the musical comes down to the quality of the music and the story's message.
"The music is so memorable, you will walk away humming the tunes," said Lee. "It has a great message and it's a lot of fun. It's a feelgood musical."
"This is really extraordinary music," said Wallace. "It's a gift of a job."
Mary Poppins has broken box-office records for the most advance sales at the Civic Theatre and runs until December 30.