Mary Poppins: A Review

Photo Credit: Deen Van Meer

I was ecstatic when I heard Mary Poppins was coming to Vancouver – out of all the Disney Musicals, this was one that that I knew I definitely had to see (and next, Newsies?!?) I did have a hard time imagining what the stage musical was going to be like – the movie has always been a favourite of mine.

Whenever I think about musicals which have already been published and successful in another avenue (novel, movie, play etc), I have learned over the years that I need to change my expectations for the musical – not lower expectations, just change them. For instance, when I was growing up, I fell absolutely in love with the movie of A Chorus Line – and when I saw the musical, I was very unhappy. It wasn’t until years later when I fell in love with the Broadway soundtrack that I regretted my expectations.

There are a few things in the musical Mary Poppins that I knew were not going to translate from the movie. The cartoon scenes, for instance. The beloved carousel and the racetrack. Also, the jumping from rooftop to rooftop during “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. But I was determined that I was going in with an open mind – after all, it’s getting rave reviewers during the tour, and it’s still playing on Broadway in NYC!

What they did for Mary Poppins was absolutely magical.

The acting and singing was superb – Rachel Wallace who shines at Mary Poppins had some large shoes to fill from the film (Julie Andrews). Wallace’s voice and acting were stunning – you could not keep your eyes off of her when she was on stage. The children, Jane and Michael (played by Marissa Ackerman and Zach Timson during my show) were delightful. They were on stage for much of the show and kept up with the fast pace. They were particularly enjoyable during Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – having to remember complex actions and lyrics. During the performance I saw, the role of Bert was played by Con O’Shea-Creal. Though it may not have been his primary role (he normally plays Northbrook), it appeared as though he had been playing the role of Bert night after night. He was strong in both character and voice. However, he was slightly lost on the stage when the entire cast was one – I wish the costume designers had given him a bright colour or a trademark to follow as they did with Mary Poppins, but they may not have been able to change anything from the Broadway musical.

Sometimes touring productions have to adapt to touring – they cannot always bring entire sets to each city (i.e. the side staircase in Wicked, the rising stages from The Lion King, the helicopter from Miss Saigon etc). I was ABSOLUTELY AMAZED AND ENCHANTED by the sets from Mary Poppins – it looked as though they had brought the entire production from Broadway with them – the entire Banks house was on stage and flowed in and out of the different scenes like water. It was brilliant.

Also brilliant was the bank scene – the cast performed it brilliantly and it totally added to the ‘precision and order” Mr Banks sings about in Cherry Tree Lane. I also have to compliment the entire cast on Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – the movements were brilliant and added to the excitement. Step in Time was also amazing with their tap dancing. It definitely made me bounce in my seat.

I loved seeing all the children in the audience, all dressed up with their families. I looked at some of the children’s faces as the show was going on and they looked so excited and happy. If I could make one recommendation (and this is for parents, mind you), if you’re going to bring snacks, drinks etc into the theatre, please wrap it in quiet materials. I was tired of the “crackles” interrupting the musical.

While Rock of Ages was definitely an “adult-only” show, this show is perfect for both adults and families – it had just enough ‘adult’ storyline to play with and fun and interactive elements to keep children entertained. Absolutely stunning.

Thank you Broadway Across Canada for bringing these shows to us who may not get another opportunity to see them. The arts are so important to learn from and enjoy. I am so excited to see what else is in store for the 2012-13 year!

Check out what is coming next at www.broadwayacrosscanada.ca and follow them on Facebook or on Twitter for the most up-to-date information about what is coming to a city near you!

Performances in Vancouver run from July 17 – 23, 2012 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Tickets are on sale now! Go to www.ticketmaster.ca or call toll-free 1.855.985.5000. Prices range from $38.40-$155.90 (plus service fees).

Tickets (though limited) are still available. There are Rush tickets to Mary Poppins in Vancouver right now! 50% off  – on the day of the show only at box office just before the show.

Photo Credit: Deen Van Meer

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