Mary Poppins flies high

Photo by David Cooper
Photo by David Cooper

The holidays are upon us and so is the perennial holiday favourite, Mary Poppins. Currently showing on at the Stanley Industrial Alliance, Mary Poppins is a familiar story just about everyone knows, even if you haven’t actually seen the film, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Most of us can probably even sing a line or two, or maybe the entire song, of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” without having seen the film since our childhood. It has remained popular since it’s first live-action incantation produced by Walt Disney in 1964, and with good reason. Even the biggest curmudgeon, like myself, is instantly happier when I hear the first notes of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

Trudging in on a rainy Wednesday night had me feeling a bit gloomy but this was quickly eroded. Starring Sara-Jeanne Hosie as Mary Poppins, the actor, dancer/choreographer, and singer delivered the practical and sober dialogue of her character with the perfect amount of sarcasm and playful mischief. A truly gifted songstress, Hosie even made my least favorite Mary Poppins song, “A Spoonful of Sugar,” an enjoyable moment. For the first half of the show, I felt Scott Walters was doing an impersonation of Dick Van Dyke’s characterisation of Bert, the magical chimney sweep, right down to the over exaggerated facial expressions. However, as the show continued, those mannerisms started to fade and I thought maybe it was Walters only option in conveying the material. That minor grievance aside, Walters was clearly a fan favourite. In particular, during the song “Step in Time” Bert walked up the walls and upside down over the roof tops which overjoyed, like OVERJOYED, audience members.

The real highlight for me was the staging. It was amazing! Trying to replicate the wonder and magic, emphasis on magic, of Mary Poppins without the help of “movie magic” is rather difficult. Sure, we could see the wires carrying Mary during her flying scenes but even the physical set like the interior of the house (children’s bedroom and kitchen), the bank and the rooftop were impressive. Creative use of lighting, numerous backdrops, props and an effective use of the stage area made Cherry Tree Lane more lively, and yes, magical.

Playing now until January 4th, Mary Poppins is fun night out, whether you want to see it with the whole family or on your own.

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