“I’m always a bit cautious when I go and see a musical based on a movie”. That was from my friend and musical theatre guru Iona Whipp’s main concerns as we were going into see Mary Poppins last night at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. I had even bigger concerns because I am literally obsessed with Mary Poppins, and Julie Andrews is a goddess. But I had to shelf my love of the film before I sat down in my seat and enjoy the live production for what it was.
And it was definitely something.
I don’t really think I need to recap the story of Mary Poppins do I? Magical nanny comes into sad household and changes the lives of the children and parents. Essentially that’s it right? That’s the skeleton of this story with so much ooey gooeygoodness it almost gave me a toothache. I think I need to start somewhere because I’m getting all confused. Let’s start with the cast yeah? Mary Poppins was played by Rachelle Wallace and she does a great job. I think one of her biggest strengths was that she let everyone else shine. It’s actually quite interesting to watch. Don’t forget Mary Poppins is practically perfect in every way so the story, even though it is named after her, is not about her. She’s practically perfect, what more do you need?
The story is about Jane and Michael Banks, the two spoiled snot nosed punk ass kids that you just want to smack played brilliantly by Marissa Ackerman & Zach Timson ( I think..I’m 100% sure about Marissa, they switch the kids off every other performance), and about their mother and father Mr & Mrs Banks played by Michael Dean Morgan and Elizabeth Broadhurst. And we can’t forget Bert who is usually played by Case Dillard, however on opening night the role was played by Con O’Shea-Creal, and he was absolutely perfect. Honestly, blew us away and completely adorable. I love a man that can tap any which way!
But for me, there was one actress that completely stole the show. Q. Hurst, the fiercest black Diva on that stage (Shocking right? Me loving a fierce black diva.) This woman has CHOPS! She played the bird feed lady and Ms. Andrews the meanest scariest nanny who was Mr. Banks’ nanny from when he was a boy. Honey that woman turned me OUT! The number between her and Mary Poppins is a SHOWSTOPPER! It is one of two numbers in the show that made me gasp. The second was Step in Time. All I’m going to say is Bert tap dances upside down on the ceiling. Honestly, it’s incredible. OH and MAJOR shout out Tregony Shepher who played Mrs. Brill the cook. She truly was Brillz! (See what I did there? I’m clever right!) That about rounds up the cast, now onto the real magic.
A stage production can really be magical or it can be lame, and Mary Poppins has some big shoes to fill especially with the movie being so ahead of it’s time visually. How were they going to transfer that magic to a live stage? With some incredible moving stage pieces including a pop up house, giant park trees, a huge umbrella and some of the most shocking lighting changes I’ve seen. They definitely took some liberties from the story of the movie and you’re going to find some cute new songs, but they definitely brought the magic to the stage. TAP DANCING UPSIDE DOWN! That’s all I’m sayin!
This all sounds great, but I wouldn’t be a proper homo if I didn’t judge something right? The way Mary Poppins came into the house when you first see her. Lame. Also the green swirly specs of light to represent magic. Double Lame. Things that seem lazy and are very easy to fix and that should be fixed, but at the end of the day doesn’t really hinder the show at all.
Onto the pervy part of this review. YES THERE IS A PERVY PART SO DEAL WITH IT. The hot guy section. I know this is a kid’s play, and I KNOW it’s totally creepy that I kept an eye out but so be it. I like a little eye candy so there. The CUTIE playing Northbrook, Stephen Roberts, made my heart a pitter patter (Tweet me @TommyD) and he’s Canadian! So naturally we could TOTALLY get married. There are also some adorable boys in the cast; Sean Patrick Doyle who played Valentine has a great tush (Valentine is a kid’s toy, which makes this even more creepy), Ian Campayno and Andrew Eckert. You can read up on everyone right HERE.
Ok I’ll wrap this up. This UBER Mary Poppins fan loved this musical. It was full of magic & whimsy, humour and love. I laughed a lot, I cried a couple times and I gay gasped twice which is my books is great. Iona clutched her pearls and we shouted WERK a few times throughout the night so this is definitely a show you do not want to miss. It’s playing at the Queen E until July 22 so make sure and go see it. Take your nieces and nephews if you got ‘em.
Ahh Mary Poppins, you truly are practically perfect in every way.
OVERALL RATING: 4 out of 5 stars