Mary Poppins photo by Timothy Richard Photography
It’s been a long time since I’d seen the Disney film adaptation of Mary Poppins and I hadn’t seen the more recent Disney drama about the adaptation, but when Neptune gave me a chance to see their new production I eagerly said “yes”. I decided to stick with my memories as preparation for seeing the musical Mary Poppins, which premiered in London’s West End a decade ago. While it’s been many years since seeing the film, it’s surprising how musical childhood memories can come back. The new production is gorgeously staged with clever sets and scene transitions along with enjoyable musical numbers and classic songs. It’s a lot of fun.
The basic story is simple with an uptight banker father and former actress mother who struggle to find a nanny that will stay with their challenging children. Mary Poppins appears magically and becomes the favourite nanny of the children. At the heart of the story is striking a balance between fun and responsibility. Most people won’t be going to see the message, but for the music and dancing, and that is quite enjoyable.
Stage plays are a nice change of pace for me and the thrill of seeing live performance along with the various effects and scene changes make for a nice night of legitimate theatre. With a musical the cast needs to act, sing, and dance to make the whole thing work and it does very well. Heather McGuigan is delightful as Mary Poppins with great timing and a beautiful voice. She is the energetic heart of the play and won me over as soon as she appeared on stage. The narrative frame is provided by her friend Bert, played by Kyle Blair who dances around the stage and the rooftops as a painter / chimney sweep who enables the show to keep moving while the large sets are reconfigured.
It’s a large cast that keeps everything moving with some great set pieces and colourful costumes. The stage filled with singing and energetic dancing that kept me entertained. It’s a massive undertaking with the number of people on the stage along with the clever effects and flying. When adapting a musical with a cinematic sister, there are additional pressures to match the more well-known film. With this production it works well as they have magical effects and props that remind you of the film without feeling like a direct copy. The video projections provide great visual enhancement to the story and keep things interesting for the whole show.
At the curtain call the audience were on their feet as the assembled cast sang the central song, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, again. The perfect way to wrap it all up. While the songs and situations were familiar to me, this is a great way for new generations to discover the story and have a fun night out at the theatre.