A musical based on the stories of P.L Travers
and the Disney film
Original Music & Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman
& Robert B. Sherman
Book by Julian Fellows
New songs, music & lyrics by George Stiles
and Anthony Drewe
Co-Created by Cameron Mackintosh
Directed by Gary Griffin
Choreography by Alex Sanchez
Music Direction by Michael Mahler
At Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire
Terrific first regional production of Mary Poppins is a treat!
A Supercalifragilistic Hit!
Over the years producers have trusted Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire with the first regional rights to their shows. That happens because the creatives at Marriott Theatre have a knack for mounting enticing productions of major shows on their intimate stage. With their theatre in the round with nine rows of seats, Marriott Theatre offers a close-up view of Broadway musicals. With Mary Poppins, Marriott Theatre has special problems dues to the low ceiling but the use of video screens to hint at the panoramic setting form the Mary Poppins film and the lush Broadway production.
What makes Mary Poppins work so well at Marriott Theatre is the superb staging and casting by Gary Griffin. With the zesty choreography by Alex Sanchez, this heartfelt production wins us from the start.
Mary Poppins has all the elements of a GREAT musical: excellent book based on P.L Travers’ children’s Mary Poppins books. Terrific catchy tunes—“Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Anything Can Happen” with music in the style of early 20th Century British music halls, melodic marches and anthems; fantastic staging with spectacular show-stopping dances.
Mary Poppins, the stage musical isn’t the film (which Pamelia Travers didn’t like) but it does use the outstanding songs by the Sherman brothers with additional songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe including the fine “Practically Perfect,” “Playing the Game” and “Anything Can Happen.” Seldom will you witness a more seamless and refreshing hybrid that keeps the best elements of the Travers book, the Disney film with thrilling dancers and funny scenes that become a fresh vibrant show.
The magic and mystery of Mary Poppins (is she myth or an angel from heaven?) is effectively played by Summer Naomi Smart while Bernie Yvon’s Bert guides us through the journey of the Banks family’s awakening with panache and a warm smile. We are totally engrossed and richly rewarded having spent a few hours in Poppins’ world where anything can happen if you take a spoonful of sugar. Smart and Yvon anchor this splendid show.
With fine turns from Susan Moniz and Rod Thomas as Winfred and George Banks and the honest work by Caroline Hefferman and Johnny Rabe as the Banks children together with funny performances by Paula Scrofano and Matthew Crowle as the household staff, this Chicago production is cast superbly. Add the wining work by Rebecca Finnegan as the sweet Bird Woman who haunts us with the lullaby “Feed the Birds” and scares us as the nanny from hell – Miss Andrews and Griffin’s production works nicely.
But the terrific tunes and the thrilling performance by Summer Naomi Smart- who is “practically perfect” in every way make this production a major hit for Marriott Theatre. But, to this reporter, Bernie Yvon was the ultimate star of the production as he narrates the show, keeps the spirit up with his winning smile. Yvon leads the thrilling tap number show stopper “Step in Time.” Yvon deftly guides us through the wonderful world of Mary Poppins as he proves that indeed ‘Anything Can Happen’ if your willing to let it. It sure does happen at Marriott Theatre. Mary Poppins is one of the finest productions in years at Marriott Theatre. It is a wonderful family and holiday show.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: October 30, 2013
For more info checkout the Mary Poppins page at theatreinchicago.com
At Marriott Theatre, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission