Disney’s Mary Poppins was performed at the Orpheum on April 23; a theatre as grand as the Banks’ household. The show was an adaptation of the 1964 film, which starred Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins and D*** Van Dyke as Bert. Mary is the nanny of the Banks family and Bert is the friendly chimney sweeper. There were less children in the audience than I anticipated but the crowd was excited nonetheless. The play was much like Mary’s favorite word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, fun and familiar, but too long.
Julie Andrews delivered an Academy Award winning performance in her lead role as Mary, and there was little room under her flying umbrella for the present day Mary, Madeline Trumble. While Trumble surely had a difficult performance to follow, she lacked the charm necessary for the role. Her voice did not overwhelm anyone either, and she was singing for a large portion of the 165 minutes. Con O’Shea-Creal had a better accent than Van Dyke did as his supporting role as Bert, but he also lacked the allure for such an important role. Eli Tokash starred as the father of the children, and he put out an excellent impersonation of a repressed hard working father.
The music was delightful, it brought back a slur of good memories. “Practically Perfect”, “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Anything Can Happen” were all very warm songs. Overall, the singing was not bad either. The ensemble filled in several scenes and created quite an atmosphere when they entered. However, there were too many times when Trumble and O’Shea-Creal’s singing voices were exposed.
The set was well done, the transitions between scenes were very smooth. The house could slide from one room to another with ease. There were also outstanding special effects. Mary flew through the scene on her umbrella and Bert skipped up the side of the stage and unto the top. The bottomless bag was also flawless.
Despite all the positives, the play was just too long. The movie also seemed too long, clocked in at 140 minutes. There are just a lot of scenes that drag on in both the play and the movie that do not seem to do much for the story line. Some of the scenes that were irrelevant to the plot are very memorable, and should not have been taken out under any circumstances. But there were several extraneous scenes, and when a performance goes on too long it is easy to forget that 75% of it is pretty good.
A production of Mary Poppins is going to get an audience no matter what, and the crowd was large and loud. The music and set did not disappoint, but the singing was underwhelming. Every time I thought the play might head to intermission, another scene was pulled out of Mary’s magic bag. Perhaps a spoonful of sugar would have helped the curtains go down.