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 L. Walter Stearns.
Choreography by Brenda Didier.
Music Direction by Eugene Dizon.
At the Mercury Theatre Chicago.
Yet another Supercalifragilistic production.
Over the last few years Chicago has witnessed several terrific productions of Mary Poppins including two national tours and several suburban productions. Now Walter Stearns has mounted a fine, heartfelt production of the English classic movie turned into a fabulous Broadway musical. Making fine use of his intimate stage, Stearns has cast an outstanding cast with innovative choreography by Brenda Didier with fine music direction by Eugene Dizon. It is no small task to mount a production of the well-known film onto the stage, magic and all but this one captures the charm, wholesomeness, and heart of the material.
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 Pamela 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,” 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 Nicole Armold while Matthew Crowle’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. Matthew Crowle anchors this production.
With fine turns from Cory Goodrich as Winfred Banks and, especially the comic turn from Kevin McKillip as George Banks this production sizzles. The adorable Banks children are played wonderfully by Pearle Bramlett (Jane) and Casey Lyons (Michael). The small bu robust cast played supporting roles and handles the dance numbers marvelously. Brenda Didiers choreography of the “Step In Time” number was innovative and emotional.
You’ll thrill to the zest of this production as Mary Poppins and Bert lead the Banks family on a magical adventure. The wonderful material is in good hands here. See this show (and bring the kids!)
Date Reviewed: April 7, 2017.
For more info checkout the Mary Poppins page at theatreinchicago.com.
At the Mercury Theatre, 3745 N. Southport, Chicago, IL, call773-325-1700, www.mercurytheatrechicago.com, tickets $30 – $65, Wed, Thurs & Fri at 7:30, Saturdays at 3 & 7:30 pm, Sundays at 1 & 6 pm, Thursday matinees at 3pm from April 20, running time is 2hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through May 28, 2017.