Mary Poppins is an enchanting musical based on the classic film that tells the tale of a magical nanny that is blown in by the wind to heal broken families. The timeless story is truly done justice in this spectacular production by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh.
The set designed by Bob Crowley is magnificent, the house is designed on stage like a large dolls house that opens and closes to reveal the inside of the Banks’ family home. The set transitions almost magically throughout the show as the audience are transformed into the extraordinary world of Mary Poppins, it’s a feast for the eyes.
Co-choreographed by Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear, there are an abundance of huge production numbers that are choreographed phenomenally. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is bursting with colour and exceptional style and Step In Time is a visual masterpiece, one of the best ensemble dance numbers I’ve ever seen on stage. The tap is innovatively choreographed, slick and bursting with energy, it had the audience roaring with applause. Not to mention the breathtaking moment Bert tap dances on the ceiling, I was in complete awe.
Mary Poppins is played by Zizi Strallen and whilst it is a tough part to play, she manages it superbly. Although a little sterner than the Mary Poppins I remember, Strallen has the twinkle in her eye and sparkle in her step. Her portrayal of Mary is exquisite, as soon as she opens her mouth to sing Practically Perfect the audience instantly warm to her. Her vocals are sublime and she moves around the stage with grace, her dancing being particularly beautiful, Strallen is a prime example of an exceptionally talented all-round musical theatre actress.
Alongside Strallen is Bert played by Matt Lee, the cheeky cockney chimney sweep that has complete admiration for Mary. Lee exudes charisma and charm, his stage presence is simply marvelous. He is lovable and heartwarming, not to mention his astounding dancing and energy.
Jane and Michael Banks played by Georgie Hill and Jabez Cheeseman really lift the story with their sweet nature and they bring a lot of humour to the performance. As both strong minded young children they create a lot of the laughs, I was incredibly impressed with Cheeseman whose comedy timing and impudent nature is excellent. The pair’s on stage relationship with Mary and their parents is touching.
Milo Twomey and Rebecca Lock do a sterling job as Mr and Mrs Banks, they are a family with tainted relationships with one another which soon start to heal as Mary arrives. Twomey’s character progression is outstanding and Lock’s vocals are sensational in her solo number Being Mrs Banks.
Other stand out performers include the addition to the Disney classic, the character of Mrs Corry played by Wreh-Asha Walton who had the audience in stitches with her sassy and feisty nature which brings a twist to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Similarly, the evil nanny Miss Andrew played by Penelope Woodman is exceptional, with a Miss Trunchable style character, she scares the children as she arrives to replace Mary Poppins.
Conducted passionately by musical director Ian Townsend, the orchestration is tremendous, it provides power and poignancy setting the magical tone for the show.
With outstanding choreography, stunning staging and a hugely uplifting and lavish score, Mary Poppins has the best ensemble numbers I’ve ever witnessed on stage. It is a musical that is bound to make you laugh, cry and everything in between, Mary Poppins is practically perfect in every way.
Mary Poppins is on at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the 23rd of April and tickets can be found here.
I also liked the cook and the butler who were a very amusing double act too.