Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious at the Stanley

Mary Poppins at the Stanley
Photo by David Cooper

What does that word actually mean?

Well, it can mean whatever you want it to mean, Mary Poppins says, “and you can use it whenever you have nothing else to say”.

Mary Poppins the Broadway Musical at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre does just that: it renders you speechless. It makes your jaw drop until you resemble a codfish and Mary Poppins has to scold you too. It makes you laugh and laugh. It is truly “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,”every minute of it. It is charming family theatre at its best. It is heart-warming comedy crammed with optimistic messages and uplifting lyrics that will keep you smiling (and possibly humming) long after the show’s finale.

The Mary Poppins musical is based on the original children’s book series written by P. L. Travers in the 30’s, which explored the fantastical adventures of a magical, English nanny named Mary Poppins. The musical brings to life some of the scenes from the books that were omitted in the 1964 Disney Movie. The scene in the park where the statues come to life, for instance, makes for an excellent dance number. However, the musical also utilizes many of the famous scenes, favourite dialogue and catchy songs from the popular Disney version, and also throws in a few new cheerful melodies to the mix.

Throughout the show, beautifully painted and detailed backdrops accompanied by clever, technical sets never cease to amaze; there are so many of them! We are brought from the bedroom to the kitchen to the study, inside the house, outside the house, to the streets, to the bank, to the park, through the chimney, and onto the rooftops to look at the stars, all on one stage. But ultimately it is the directing and the acting and the ways in which the actors have been directed to use the space, that make this live theatre experience so exciting. Needless to say, the incredibly talented cast goes above and beyond to bring the magical, melodic world of Mary Poppins to life.

Not only does the star, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, sing beautifully, dance enchantingly, and succeed to bring a spoon full of personality to the role of Mary Poppins, she also pulls furniture out of a magic handbag, a lamp, a plant, a mirror, effortlessly. It is squeal inducing excitement, and kids and adults alike will be wooed by all of Poppins’ tricks and Hosie’s theatrics. Two of the other lead roles: Jane and Michael Banks, the bratty rich kids who Mary Poppins comes to nanny are played by talented child actors, Kassia Danielle Malmquist, and Graham Verchere. They have almost as much singing and stage time as Sara-Jeanne Hosie, so, fortunately, they are as talented at singing and acting as they are adorable. They perform in convincing accents with impeccable clarity. The night I attended, Graham Verchere pulled more laughter from the audience then any other actor or character in the show.

For me the highlights of the night were hearing my favourite Mary Poppins songs sung live, watching the phenomenal chimney sweep tap dance number, and of course, seeing Sara-Jeanne Hosie as Mary Poppins fly away with her umbrella in hand. For all of the musical and theatre-lovers in Vancouver Mary Poppins the Broadway Musical at the Stanley Theatre is a must see production, and, luckily, it is running all the way until January 5, 2014.