“Mary Poppins” musical: Hokey, pokey


I found myself, blown by the cold wind, into Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins is the story of the beloved nanny in Victorian England who comes and tries to reform two unruly, but good at heart, children through a process of drugging (sugar-coated?) and ‘trips’. She is no …. ordinary nanny. In my opinion, the show was hokey and pokey, and I wanted to turn myself about. Mary Poppins is running at the Orpheum from April 23rd to April 28th.

I, in hindsight, had the demeanor and stability of a sneezing bat. I was not sneezing or a bat, and I don’t feel I could be described as batty. It’s just a description of my psyche. I waited in the atrium for five minutes, looking and feeling genuinely lost, until I realized that everyone was already inside.

Now, I’m hardly the authority on singing (I have the singing voice of a sneezing bat) but something was off in the way Mary (Madeline Trumble) was doing it. I heard several likely theories from my peers, and as I have no authority from which to concur, I will merely say it stood out– not in a positive way.

I originally felt bad for (Con O’Shea-Creal), who had the part of Bert. Walking in, I was acutely aware that I was comparing every aspect of his performance to D*** Van Dyke (who played Bert in the movie). At first I failed to be charmed, but by the end, I appreciated his performance greatly. He had tough shoes to fill and he did so admirably.

The show felt needlessly long (pokey). It is not a good sign, that when, at the end of Act One, I thought to myself, “this is a lovely time for it to be over. It should be over. WHY ISN’T IT OVER?” I understand that you shouldn’t oversimplify things, but there’s also a point where you have to respect the audience’s time. As the adage goes, “kill your darlings.”

For those out there with children, DO NOT take them to this show. It is not particularly child-oriented, and several people left in the middle of the acts, owing to the length. Which may lead you to wonder who this show was intended for. I cannot answer that.

I found all the supporting elements to be nice, bordering on great. The sets were fantastic, specifically the visual aesthetic, the design of the park background and house.  The costumes didn’t stand out to me, (perhaps owing to their Victorian sensibilities), but that’s probably because I have the fashion sense of an sneezing bat. I thought the costumes did their part well. The various tricks and illusions were cool and fun to watch. There weren’t a ton, it’s not a non-stop illusional spectacle, but just little things like collapsing shelves and the like.

By the end, I was laughing and crying, but not in the good way. I was laughing at the hokiness of the ending and crying at the idea it wasn’t over. Now, neither of these are normal for me, so perhaps the whole ‘sneezing bat’ demeanor was to blame. I don’t mean to spoil anything, but I found the declarations of love to Mary to be incredibly hokey, especially since they all happen in short sequence.

If you ask me, Mary Poppins should be a fluff show. You should go in for two hours (maybe less) of good times and come out pleasantly enough pleased. This was not a fluff show. It felt endless and a labor of love; love that my bat-heart was incapable of perpetuating. I don’t know. Perhaps if you’re a die hard Mary Poppins fan, this show is for you. Perhaps if you’re feeling up to it. Perhaps if hokey and pokey doesn’t sound that bad. Perhaps if you’re not a hiccuping bat.