NEW YORK - It may take a big spoonful of sugar to make this go down: Julie Andrews says that her four-octave voice is not coming back.
The Oscar- and Tony Award-winning actress said in a recent interview that a botched operation to remove noncancerous throat nodules in 1997 hasn't gotten better. It has permanently limited her range and her ability to hold notes.
"The operation that I had left me without a voice and without a certain piece of my vocal cords," said Andrews, who starred in such quintessential stage and film musicals as The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins.
The actress, who narrates the "Christmas Pageant of Lights" at Macy's Center City in Philadelphia, says she can still speak "pretty well" and can still hit a few bass notes, "So if you wanted a rendition of 'Ol' Man River' you might get it, but I'm not singing as much these days."
Andrews, 77, has sung publicly several times since the operation including performances in the 2004 film The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and a 2010 London concert, but called those "speak-singing."
She says, however, that she has rediscovered her voice in her books and in directing theater.
Her latest children's book, Little Bo in London: The Ultimate Adventure of Bonnie Boadicea, has just been released by HarperCollins. It's the fourth and final book in the series about a possibly magical ship's cat who travels the world with the man who rescued her. It's the 27th book she's cowritten with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton.
She's also directing a musical theater adaptation of another of her books, The Great American Mousical. The show, about a troupe of acting mice living beneath the floors of a famous Broadway theater, is being performed at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut through Sunday. Andrews thinks it "would do very well on Broadway," where she says she would like to direct and produce.
Andrews says that, in a strange way, she feels fortunate that she no longer can sing because it pushed her to find a "different way" of using her voice. Paraphrasing a line from her Sound of Music character Maria von Trapp, Andrews noted that "when one door closes another window opens."