Few get to act dirty in a Disney musical. Con OShea-Creal does, because thats what you do when youre cast as the chimney sweep of Mary Poppins.
Taking a visual cue from Dick Van Dykes performance as Bert in the beloved 1964 film, OShea-Creal spends much of the stage show covered in soot.
Weve developed a special kind of black talc powder that we use. I sweat so much in the show that I have to keep reapplying. Im pretty grubby by the end, but its fun, he said. I had a very close friend point out to me, You have the best job, because you get to do what all little boys want to do: Go play in dirt and rub it on your face every day.
Indeed, the Nebraska native is having the time of his life with the touring production of Poppins, which opens Tuesday for a run of eight performances at Civic Center Music Hall.
Its an adrenaline rush every night, he said. I have to remind myself to breathe and calm down.
A 2008 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, OShea-Creal said hes not trying to fill Van Dykes shoes.
Im trying to play Bert my own way. But what I remember most was his care and love for the children, he said. The fact that Mary was there with them was all he needed to know that he knew what his job was: to help them discover whatever he was there to teach them.
It really ties in more to those stories. Theyve done a really great job of capturing the essence of what the film was, but still stay true to the true source material, said OShea-Creal, praising the script by Julian Fellowes, creator of TVs Downton Abbey. I think its one of the most top-rate transitions from a movie onto a stage that Ive ever seen.
Part of that, OShea-Creal believes, is Marys continuing message of hope.
Most people would agree the world is flawed in some way. Theres something about this life that is just a little bit off, he said. The idea that theres someone looking out for you for all of us, thats an exciting thing to think about.