Mary Poppins is Theatrical Magic

When someone asks you what Mary Poppins is like, you can’t help but expel that it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! For upon leaving the theatre the rambunctious musical’s score is stuck firmly in your head. And if for a moment you can resist singing the ridiculously fun song, it’s only to be replaced in your brain by a round Step in Time, Let’s Go Fly a Kite or the haunting Feed the Birds.

If you think know the story of Mary Poppins from the Disney film, think again – this stage adaptation takes parts of Australian author P.L. Travers original books and elements of the 1964 Disney film and combines the two to create a whole new take on the story of a nanny who flies in with the wind under her umbrella.

Set in the household at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, Mary Poppins appears to take over the role of Nanny to mischievous children Jane and Michael Banks, bringing a mix chaos and order to the household of their banker father and aspirant mother. Armed with her bag of tricks and magical umbrella Mary Poppins takes the children on a series of adventures showing them that fun and excitement can be found everywhere, joining the adventures is local man about the neighbourhood, chimney sweep Bert.

The clever sets that fly in and out of the stage allow the audience to be transported to various parts of the house at 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Presented as a giant doll’s house we see in the front, spin it around to visit the kitchens and lift off the top to get into the nursery, and the whole thing disappears to create the park, the bank and the steps of St Paul’s.

The musical numbers are big and bold, filled with tight choreography and costumes of dazzling colour. The trip to Mrs. Corry’s Conversation Shop leads into the captivating and energetic rendition of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, a visit to the rooftops leads into the tap dancing wonder of Step in Time, while the simple song of Let’s Go Fly a Kite holds such deeper meanings about freedom and loving life.

English actress Lisa O’Hare is captivating in the title role having previously embodied Mary Poppins in the West End. It’s a lucky bonus for Perth audiences that she’s just joined the show for the final leg of its Australian tour. While So You Think You Can Dance judge Matt Lee shows off his superior tap dancing and singing skills and proves he has no fear of heights when suddenly dances up the walls and across the ceiling of the stage.

Simon Burke’s take on the father Mr. Banks is filled with subtlety giving the character a real journey from pompous bureaucrat to enlivened family man, while Pippa Grandison’s performance as the mother Winifred Banks is heartfelt and showcases her comic timing. The rest of the cast is first class with Sally-Anne Upton as the housekeeper Mrs. Brill, Leah Howard as Mrs. Corry and Mitch Fistrovic as the statue Neleus, all capturing the audience’s attention. On opening night ten year old Blake Hurford performed the role Michael Banks and was quite a scene stealer. The talent cast truly deserved their opening night standing ovation.

Mary Poppins is a classic musical, filled with fun, excitment, great tunes and an ethusisam that will stay with you long after the curtain falls.

Mary Poppins is at the Burswood Theatre until June 3,, tickets available through Ticketek.

Graeme Watson

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