Saturday, 29 February 2020

Review: Mary Poppins

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Mary Poppins.
When Jane and Michael, the children of the wealthy and uptight Banks family, are faced with the prospect of a new nanny, they are pleasantly surprised by the arrival of the magical Mary Poppins. Embarking on a series of fantastical adventures with Mary and her Cockney performer friend, Bert, the siblings try to pass on some of their nanny's sunny attitude to their preoccupied parents.

In this production, Zizi Strallen stars in the titular role of Mary Poppins; a portrayal that is beyond outstanding. In the words of her character, Strallen's performance is "practically perfect in every way". She had an excellent characterisation, perfectly balancing Mary Poppins's elegance with the desired friendliness needed to convey warmth. In addition to this, Strallen's skills in relation to singing and dancing are equally as impeccable. By her side is Charlie Stemp, as Bert, in what is yet another faultless performance. Stemp is filled with charisma from head to toe, and has a truly infectious energy. He has a real presence about him, and often lights up the stage upon his entrance. Stemp also has a rather unique skill set, and is a true triple threat; he is an excellent actor, a superb singer and an outstanding dancer. In particular, his tap dancing abilities are extraordinary. Charlotte Breen and Samuel Newby, who portrayed Jane and Michael Banks at the performance at which I attended, were incredible. Both actors barely ever left the stage, meaning that they were onstage for close to 2 hours and 30 minutes; this in itself is rather remarkable. They were just as talented as their adult colleagues, and were an absolute delight to watch. They too were exceptional in relation to their acting, singing and dancing. A special mention must also be given to Claire Machin as Mrs. Brill. Machin was utterly hilarious in this role, and had excellent comedic timing throughout.

The musical score includes songs from the film by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The score was magnificent, and there are a number of really catchy tunes to be found within it. Both the old classics, such as 'Step in Time', and the newly written songs, such as 'Practically Perfect', are sublime. Additionally, the musical score was bolstered by first-rate orchestrations, which were masterfully put together by the late William David Brohn. Despite Brohn's passing, his legacy continues with his work on Mary Poppins.

The scenic design, by Bob Crowley, was tremendous. The designs are primarily big and colourful, which really suited the tone of the production. The backdrops almost felt like a picture book that had sprung to life, which enhanced the show's playful nature. The choreography, by Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear, was spellbinding. It was thoroughly upbeat throughout, further adding to the mood of the show. The big production numbers were particularly stunning, and the ensemble carried all of these out faultlessly. In particular, the musical number 'Step in Time' was absolutely magical, and featured some of the best tap-dancing that I have ever witnessed on a West End stage. The illusions, by Paul Kieve and Jim Steinmeyer, are equally as beyond belief. I will not spoil anything for those who have not yet seen Mary Poppins, but I promise that you are likely to be blown away.

Now for my final verdict on Mary Poppins. I give Mary Poppins...

Mary Poppins is a true spectacle, and can be enjoyed by the whole family. There are a number of really outstanding performances to be seen here, and the creative aspects are utterly spectacular.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

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