Mary Poppins the musical is basically all my dreams realised in the space of three hours. Combine that with dinner at Grossi Florentino and my beautiful girl friends as company and you have the best girls night out ever.
The expectations I had of this production were disgustingly high. I grew up watching Disney’s Mary Poppins movie. I swear I was born knowing the lyrics to all the songs, although some might argue with me on that one. Whatever the truth, it is an absolute classic. So the musical had a lot to live up to.
From the first chord, played by the live orchestra, I was entranced. The costumes, the sets and the lighting were flawless. Many times during the course of the musical we were left blown away by tricky little set manoeuvures which happened as if by magic (come on now, get into the spirit of it). I must admit, part of me was constantly comparing the action unfolding in front of me to the movie, but this can only be expected when you have watched the film more times than you have brushed your teeth, and it didn’t detract from the performance in any way. The scenes in the musical which weren’t in the film were a highlight as I enjoyed seeing how they had adapted old themes into something new, all the while keeping true to the feel of the story and the magic of Mary Poppins herself.
Mary Poppins was the highlight of the show. Of course it is the part in the musical with the most to live up to, and Verity Hunt-Ballard was, dare I say it, practically perfect in the role. She carried the show through, just as Julie Andrews does in the film, and was the star of every scene. Obviously a professional performer of the highest level, she was ladylike, humorous, good looking and had the most beautiful voice. I left in such admiration of her that I would happily have morphed into being her, if such things were possible.
Matt Lee, who played Bert, was also a highlight. He is a wonderful dancer and even though I was half expecting him to hold up a So You Think You Can Dance score card at any moment, he nailed the role. Fortunately for Lee, the role of Bert often entailed wearing a hat. He didn’t quite have the level of charisma that I love in Dick van Dyke, but was fantastic none-the-less. Lets be honest here, anyone who can tap dance upside down has got my vote.
The children were gorgeous, as were all the supporting characters. Each was so vibrant and well played I could go through them all and sing their praises. However, special mention has to be made of Mrs Andrews, the evil nanny who plays foil to the darling Mary. She was so convincingly scary and evil that I had to keep reminding myself of the acting and musical talent behind the performance, to avoid leaving the theatre and proclaiming how horrible she was. Another stand out was the manservant in the Banks household. His dancing and singing were so clever and comical he left a lasting impression. He used his tall lanky frame to full affect, providing a bright spark on stage.
I could go on and on, but I will suffice with saying once more how perfect and magical a night it was. So perfect that I have booked a ticket to go again…