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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 22, 2010

Concert, with spoonful of singing, in works

By Susan King
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

At 74, Julie Andrews loves to chat about her love of children, her own childhood and her recent and past film projects.

Associated Press

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Julie Andrews wants to make one thing perfectly clear she's not making a comeback as a singer.

For the last few months, Andrews has been trying to dispel rumors that she has had vocal reconstruction surgery.

Back in 1997, she had noncancerous nodules removed from her throat, silencing the glorious soprano that graced the Broadway musicals "My Fair Lady" and "Camelot" and film classics such as 1964's "Mary Poppins," for which she won a best actress Oscar, 1965's "The Sound of Music" and 1982's "Victor/Victoria."

Andrews says a week after this erroneous report began to circulate on the Internet, it was announced that she was going to do a big concert this May in London.

"What is happening is that I am recreating a concert last year I did at the Hollywood Bowl and toured America with," she explained. "It's with full symphony orchestra and singers. The first half is all Rodgers and Hammerstein music as it is related to me, so it's footage and narration and storytelling."

And, yes, a bit of singing from Andrews. "I go right out and say, 'You all know I have had vocal surgery and I do have about five bass notes left, so I can assure you I can still sing the hell out of "Old Man River." ' "

The second half of the evening is a symphonic version of one of her children's stories, "Simeon's Gift," for which she reads the narration. She "dreadfully" misses singing.

The eternally youthful Andrews, 74, is relaxing in a hotel suite. Her shoes are off and her feet are up on the table. Although she's suffering from jet lag, Andrews is practically perfect gracious, funny and witty.

She offers a cup of English tea and a chance to share some of her cookies. She loves to chat about her love of children; her own childhood; her latest film, "Tooth Fairy," which opens today; and her experience making the 1966 mystery thriller "Torn Curtain" for director Alfred Hitchcock.

Andrews begins laughing when she learns that the interviewer wasn't allowed to see "Torn Curtain" because she shares her bed with Paul Newman in the opening sequence. Of course, the scene is so tame these days, the film probably would be G-rated.

She loved working with "Hitch."

"He couldn't have been kinder," she noted. "My experience was that he was a little protective. He didn't like other people to have my attention. I remember someone coming on the set to visit me and he deliberately moved into my sight line."

Now, she's sharing the screen with Dwayne Johnson, the former wrestler known as the Rock, in the family comedy "Tooth Fairy."

Johnson plays a minor- league hockey player with a cynical outlook on life who is called "Tooth Fairy" because he tends to knock the teeth out of his competition. When he quashes a boy's dreams of becoming a hockey star, he's forced to become a real tooth fairy.

Andrews plays his firm but kind boss the Queen of all the Tooth Fairies.

"Somebody asked me today if he would have been a star in the old days," said Andrews.

"I said yes because I think it's all there."