A musical based on the stories of P.L Travers and the Disney film
Ambitious family musical has loads of heart, whimsey, and panache
Co-produced by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, Mary Poppins is a fresh hybrid musical that co-creator/producer Mackintosh said of, “What I was searching for was a show that was both familiar and surprising, which would merge the best of the books and the film into something new.” Did he ever succeed!
Mary Poppins has all the elements of a GREAT musical: an 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 vivid lighting on terrific sets; spectacular show-stopping dances; and thrilling flying scenes that include Matt Crowle (as Bert) tap dancing and spinning around in the showstopping “Step In Time”.
Director Rachel Rockwell, fresh from her fabulous production of Brigadoon at the Goodman Theatre, has mounted another triumph with Mary Poppins. Her supporting cast contained wonderful work from Michael Aaron Linder as George Banks and Cory Goodrich as Winifred Banks. The Banks children are played by Eloise Lushina or Peyton Shaffer (Jane) and Michael is played by Charlie Babbo or Jake Helm. These kids are real triple threats as they act, sing, and dance throughout the show. Glory Kissel and Carl Draper are comic delights as the cook and butler.
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.” You’ll witness a effectively seamless and refreshing hybrid that keeps the best elements of the Travers book, the Disney film’s thrilling dancers, and funny scenes that become a fresh vibrant show. Filled with fine vocals, especially from Emily Rohm and Matt Crowle , this joyous, feel-good nostalgic musical is family friendly and a fabulous night of theatre. Of the several breathtaking dance showstoppers, “Step in Time” unfolds as a dance spectacle of the highest order. This terrific tap number highlights this energetic show. All will thrill as Mary, umbrella in-hand, slowly alights over the audience into the rafters once her task with the Banks family is finished. Her flying was fearless and jaw-dropping.
The magic and mystic of Mary Poppins (is she myth or an angel from heaven?) is deftly played by Emily Rohm while Matt Crowle’s Bert guides us through the journey of the Banks family’s awakening with panache. We are totally engrossed and richly rewarded having spent a few hours in Poppins’s world where anything can happen if you take a spoonful of sugar. Mary Poppins is the best musical never to have won a Tony Award! After seeing this beautiful, infectious musical for the fourth time, I can state that the creatives at Paramount Theatre under the leadership of Jim Corti and Rachel Rockwell, have created the most stunning production of this fine show. The song “Practically Perfect” aptly defines this magnificent work.
For more info checkout the Mary Poppins page at theatreinchicago.com
At Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora, IL, call 630-896-6666, www.paramountaurora.com, tickets $41 to $54, Wednesdays at 1:30 & 7pm, Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 5:30pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through January 4, 2015