"We're calling it the 'Gift of Music,' but it is actually a gift to me," Andrews said. "I hadn't been on a stage in
12 years, but the opportunity to do this came to me."

Gwinnett Herald
July 31 2008
By Hatcher Hurd

Julie Andrews brings 'Gift of Music' to Amphitheatre

Julie Andrews has delighted audiences since she was 10 years old when she went on stage with her vaudeville parents in Britain. Now she is back bringing what she calls the "Gift of Music" to her fans at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Saturday, Aug. 2.

She has not sung before an audience professionally since she had throat surgery 12 years ago, and while the tour does not feature the program as an Andrews concert – although she does have five singers accompanying her – she believes she will "pleasantly surprise" her fans during the show.

The singing star who created the legendary stage roles of Liza in "My Fair Lady" and Guinevere in "Camelot" and then gave us the film icons of Mary Poppins and Maria in "The Sound of Music" will host a retrospective of the music of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II in the first half of the show.

The second will be a musical adaptation of the children's book Andrews and her daughter Emma wrote.

"We're calling it the 'Gift of Music,' but it is actually a gift to me," Andrews said. "I hadn't been on a stage in 12 years, but the opportunity to do this came to me."

More than once the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation had approached Andrews to take their timeless music on tour. Then her conductor and arranger of more than 30 years Ian Fraser put her book "Simeon's Gift" to music.

"It was a successful CD [the book] and Ian thought it would be good as children's theater. So he orchestrated it much like 'Peter and the Wolf,'" she said.

Interestingly, Andrews said it was a life-changing event when she had the opportunity to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" in the theater.

"I didn't know then that was what I wanted to do. I didn't see it and tell myself that is where I want to be. But it did set the bar for me," she said.

Seven years later, she was Liza and playing opposite Rex Harrison's Henry Higgins. Wherever that bar was set, she cleared it by a mile.

For many moviegoers, it must have seemed Andrews parachuted straight onto the movie screen with her umbrella as Mary Poppins in the movie of the same name and winning an Oscar in her first film.

But in real life there are no overnight sensations. She grew up in a show business family, and by age 10 was regularly appearing onstage with her parents although without billing, but she had an incredible voice even then. But if it was show business, it was the shirttail of show business.

"It was vaudeville, the dying days of vaudeville. It was really pretty tacky. But I didn't look at it as show business then. I was a child and it was just something my parents wanted me to do. But it was a great learning experience. I learned stagecraft."

She said it was not until she was in her early 20s that she realized she might have the talent to really hold an audience. She talks about her early years extensively in her memoir, "Home," which is also just out this year.

So she is here with her book, "The gift of Simeon," her new show, "The Gift of Music," but what audiences want most is just the gift of Julie Andrews. And so they will.

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