Julie Andrews visits Perpich Center for the Arts


Perpich senior Ben Schultz and Dame Julie Andrews

MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

This afternoon, the students at the Perpich Center for the Arts were treated to an appearance by theater royalty. Dame Julie Andrews visited the Golden Valley school, which draws students from across the state.

She was there thanks to senior Ben Schultz, who has been corresponding with Andrews’ agent for the past two years in the hopes of convincing her to visit.

So why is Schultz such a big fan?

She’s always conducting herself with grace and poise. Everything you see her in – it’s not a skanky role, it’s not dirty. Every time she’s on tv – like Oprah – she’s never snotty or rude. Every single student here, we look up to her just because of the work she’s done for theater and how successful she’s become.

Andrews is in Minneapolis in part for a visit with Target Corporation, and also to promote her most recent children’s book; it’s thanks to Schultz she added the school visit to her itinerary.

The student body leapt to its feet with a roar when Andrews walked on the stage of the school theater.

She spoke to the students about the importance of the arts, and how they are a force for good in the world. When asked for her advice to budding performers, she offered this:

I think that if you’re passionate about what you do – opportunities will float by when you least expect them. Since those moments could happen at any time, my best advice is do your homework. Learn what it is you love. Learn all about it, read as much as you possibly can, be ready because you never know when that special moment is going to be offered to you.

Afterwards, sitting in the makeshift “green room” (the boy’s locker room), Andrews admitted that, while she attended an arts school herself, it was her family that played the most formative role in her career.

My mother was a fine pianist, my step-father was a wonderful tenor and he began giving me singing lessons when I was about seven years old – my mother’s sister, my aunt was a ballet school teacher – actually she ran the local village ballet school and she did it very well. They encouraged and inspired me, and it just so happened that I was blessed with a kind of freak soprano voice that spanned four octaves. I didn’t know anything else but theater growing up.

At the age of 75, Andrews is still looking at future film roles as well as directing opportunities. All this in addition to the more than twenty books she’s published with her daughter.

I’m still learning, and I’ve worked my whole life. – I don’t know how I would feel if I wasn’t doing something that turned me on, so I’m always looking for the possibility of something fresh, something new something that I could embrace – I really love it.

Here’s the audio from her talk to the students at the Perpich Center for the Arts, which includes a lovely recollection of her late husband Blake Edwards: