I’ve decided that I want to say a little something about the shows I see, not so much to share my awesome insight with the adoring public, but so I remember what I saw, when I saw it, and what I thought. So I’ll start with Mary Poppins, which I saw for the first time back in October. Before I discovered a travelzoo deal for the show, I was hesitant to see it because I knew it was different than the movie, which I adore, and I was afraid I wouldn’t like it.
The musical follows the general plot line of the movie, with a number of changes that were necessary to bring the story to the stage. The two kids are insufferable, and the Banks family can’t keep a nanny to save their lives (I certainly wouldn’t work for them!). The kids make a big list of what they’d like in a nanny, the dad tears it up, and poof! Mary Poppins is in their house, reporting for nanny duty. Which is kind of creepy, if you think about it, but after seeing this I have decided that Mary Poppins is some sort of witch. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.
The production itself was phenomenal, almost magical. The acting on the part of the adults was great, from Bert and Mary down to the ensemble, who had to make tons of costume and make up changes. I’m still baffled as to how they did it! Bert, the jolly chimney sweep, shows off his athletic prowess in the song “Step in Time” when he scales the side of the stage and proceeds to tap dance across the top of the stage, upside down. At my first show (I saw it twice), I was seated in the front row so I was able to see that he was literally tap dancing on this platform that wheeled from one side to another. It was awesome. There was also a really cool kite scene, and then, of course, Mary makes her glorious exit by way of flying umbrella.
The special effects were cool, but my favorite part of the show was Mary herself. I just kept staring at her in awe, thinking, “Boy, that Mary Poppins is one smug bitch.” I meant that in the nicest way possible. She was as kind as you’d expect an old timey magical nanny to be, but she just had this all-knowing personality with a sassy edge that I wish I had. She was cheeky and kind of snarky, but it was the kind of bitchiness you admire. At least I do! I actually met the actress who played her, and with trepidation (I didn’t want her to take it the wrong way), I told her what I thought–the smug bitch thing–and she laughed and was actually quite pleased with my comment. She told me that the director had been telling her to “act more stuck up,” which she did beautifully.
The biggest downfall of this production, for me, was the children. I know they were probably directed to act like holy terrors, but the girl I saw took it way too far. I was so annoyed with her that I found myself averting my eyes to a different part of the stage whenever she was on. I saw the show a second time from the balcony so I could get a better view of Mary flying, and I was hoping that the other girl (there were two girls and two boys covering the parts of Jane and Michael) would go on, but she didn’t, so I don’t know if my annoyance is with this one particular child or with all of them. The boy was not as bad as the girl, but even though he wasn’t awful, they both came across as unprofessional, unpolished, and somewhat unaware of their lines or choreography. So I didn’t like the kids in the show, particularly the gal, which was a disappointment since they play such a big role in the story.
All in all, I loved this show. I would not hesitate to see it again, especially because the kids I saw performing will likely be too tall for their roles by the time I next see it. Let’s hope the new batch is better! Oh, and I want to mention the song “Feed the Birds,” because it was the most emotional part of the show, I definitely had tears in my eyes during that number. I don’t know what it is about that scene, it makes me cry!
If you have the chance to check out this musical, I would highly recommend it. If you’ve seen it, let me know what you think!