Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend an evening with a childhood hero or heroine? To listen with rapt wonder as they told stories of their life, played montages of moments that reflected their career and shared pictures of their loved ones? To be invited into a small part of their private world?

As a pre-teen child, I  had several heroes and heroines. I loved the comedy of Jerry Lewis, and watched every film he ever made before I was 13 years old. The music of John Denver still makes me cry, and it was because of him that I met my husband, so he has a special place in my past. Danny Kaye was a funny, brilliant man and I will always remember watching him conduct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, with tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks.

Most of all, I loved Julie Andrews- from the way she sang like a nightingale, to her beautiful face with its upturned nose and crooked front tooth. From her perfect diction, to the way she tut-tutted when she was cross, and her turned out toes. I have seen all of her popular movies and loved every one of them. But more than anything, I loved a book she wrote called “Mandy”, about an orphaned girl who found solace in a little house she found in the woods behind her orphanage. I had no idea it was ‘Mary Poppins’ who wrote that book, because it was published under her married name, Julie Edwards. So when I discovered it was Ms Andrews who wrote it, I knew she was a wonderful soul and connected with her even more.
Item pictureWhen I heard she was coming to Brisbane to speak about her life, I was so keen to see her. The tickets were very expensive- more than I could afford- but I knew I would rue the day I missed hearing Julie Andrews speak. Of course, to hear her sing would have been sublime, but sadly for Julie and the world, she is unable to perform as she once did due to a poorly executed operation on her throat. 
It was enough to just hear her speak.
About a year ago, my husband and I had been to see another favourite tell his tale: John Cleese. Again, very expensive tickets, but we have always loved his antics and thought it would be a great night out. Sadly, it was very disappointing, with Mr Cleese reading most of his ‘speech’ from a cue screen behind us. He introduced the evening by telling us how much money he owed his ex-wife (£17,000,000 or thereabouts) and the reason we were all there was so he could pay his debt.  The whole audience sat a little straighter after that, as he had put everyone’s back up. While he showed some interesting footage and shared a few unknown stories, we could tell his heart wasn’t in it and that we had wasted our money.

With Ms Andrews, I was certainly not disappointed, and if I wasn’t grinning from ear to ear, I was wiping away a tear of empathy or laughing out loud at some of her shenanigans. She isn’t all elocution lessons and straight lace, you know! She discussed her recently deceased husband, the legendary Blake Edwards, showing us a delightful montage of their life together, standing on stage herself, watching the clip quietly. I wondered how she felt at that moment.                                                   

Julie was introduced by Nicholas Hammond, who played Friedrich in the Sound of Music. This introduction and the dialogue between the two of them added a new delight for many, especially die hard Sound of Music fans. But the kicker had to be watching ‘Maria from the Abbey’ and ‘Friedrich Von Trapp’ stand together on stage, holding hands, leading the whole audience in an emotive rendition of Edelweiss. The tears were welling and I struggled to sing as I choked up with emotion, never imagining that in my life I would be standing 20 metres away from a beloved actress and author from my childhood.             

This wonderful evening showed Dame Julie Edwards Andrews to be a funny, intelligent and extraordinarily talented woman, and I am so happy to have shared three hours of my life with one of my greatest childhood heroines.