Did you see that title? That’s right, you can dare to bring your children along to a theater production! There will be no nudity, very little destruction of innocence and childhood, and altogether shocking amounts of child-appropriate humor! It’s almost scandalous!
Joking aside, Mary Poppins was an excellent musical production. The costumes were exciting without being too over-the-top, the acting was realistic, and the props were fascinating. Although we weren’t allowed to know how they worked, the stage magic was fantastic in many places. However, there were some parts of the production that simply didn’t meet par.
When Bert walks up the side of the stage wall, over the top, and back down again, it’s supposed to be mysterious and magical. It’s supposed to be Bert being as incredible as Mary, in his own way. What happened instead was a huge disappointment–we could clearly see the cables holding him up, and the scene gained a cheap, secondhand feel to it. That wasn’t the only time, either–the expanding cake was no great mystery, even if the breaking table and shelves in the same scene were done fairly well. The budget was spent more on things that would be used once and once only–Bert’s painting of flowers, for instance–or things that weren’t really the main focus of the audience–the gigantic umbrella at the end of the show–than the flying Mary Poppins does or the bird, which was actually somewhat significant to the plot for at least ten seconds.
The actors did anywhere from good to splendid, and there was no real weakness there. The children weren’t as good as they could be, of course, but that problem is impossible to prevent with young actors purely because they lack experience. The singing on all parts was spectacular, especially Bert (Con O’Shea Creal). His voice stole the show, especially in the various renditions of Chim Chimaree. His introduction to the story at the very beginning had just the right amount of mystery and drama to it.
This leads me to the orchestra. As a flautist myself, I am biased, but I thought the orchestra was amazing. The moods they created and precision with which they played was shocking, and I will eternally be jealous of their ability to convey plotlines and settings through music. In addition, I was floored by the difficult transitions and lines they pulled off with apparent ease and grace. That was easily one of the best pit orchestras I’ve ever heard in a musical.
In conclusion, with its tasteful costuming, good acting, and excellent orchestra, Mary Poppins managed to overcome its lack of stage magic finesse and come out a good musical to watch for the whole family. Not only will you see the traditional Mary Poppins portrayed loyally and with talent, there will be some acting and most especially some music that you will never forget. I definitely recommend this production for fans and strangers alike, regardless of age or experience with the story.