Mary Poppins the Musical - Review
Fresh from its Australian tour, Cameron Mackintosh and Disney have brought to Auckland the eponymous, highly anticipated Mary Poppins musical; playing at Auckland’s iconic Civic theatre.
As I entered the buzzing foyer I found myself in the throes of families, grandparents, teens, couples and a particularly lost looking father nursing a beer and looking slightly fearful (he’d soon find out there was no reason to be afraid). A short queue of some very excited looking children was also forming to get their photo taken with a 2D Mary Poppins floating off into the air (as she is want to do on occasion), a nice touch that proved popular with the younger demographic.
I had no small child with me to justify my presence, just a wine and a good girlfriend. Nor did the two young couples on either side of me. This story simply held a very special place in our hearts as Mary Poppins tends to do with people of all ages.
From the moment the curtain went up two things were clear: these people certainly knew what they were doing, and there were going to be plenty of opportunities to have a good laugh. We were quickly introduced to the thoroughly lovable menagerie of characters who brought the story to life with their polished, engaging performances. I immediately liked Mrs Brill (Sally-Anne Upton), the gruff, buxom cook; and was drawn to the gentle, impressionable Mrs Banks (Pippa Grandison) with her sweet shrewdness hiding beneath her soft exterior; but I think my favourite had to be young Michael Banks (Blake Hurford on this particular night) who proved a bit of a crowd pleaser. Armed with an arsenal of carelessly observant but genius wit that precocious 6 year old boys have been known to possess, his winning stroke of brilliance in my books was his droll observation, “She looks like something that would eat its young”.
Of course it was Poppins (in the form of Rachel Wallace) who shone as the crown jewel, effortlessly embodying the enigma of this woman who is feminine yet firm, organised but delightful, slightly terrifying and simultaneously charismatic. Ever-charming and wielding some seriously good diction Wallace remained true to the Poppins we know and love with her quiet but determined propensity for turning things on their head (sometimes quite literally).
Visually the musical was completely enchanting. From the practical to the fantastical the costumes were a rich tapestry full of colour and imagination. From the stylish and ever-polished Poppins (who made even an apron look elegant) to the wildly formidable garb of the foreboding and boorishly terrifying Miss Andrews, I felt a little like I'd stepped into somebody's dream. Likewise the sets were dynamic, fun and imaginative- almost cartoonish in places- hanging somewhere between reality and fantasy.
It was impossible to miss the excited shuffling of anticipation when the crowd cottoned on to the fact that the song ‘Supercalifrajal..(..I give up trying to spell it)’ was about to start and it did not disappoint. Hilarious and high-energy I have to tout the performance as my favourite part of the whole show and it was impossible not to clap along. That said, when ‘Step in time’ started up the toe-tapping chorus didn’t miss a beat with their tight, richly harmonised execution.
Playful, whimsical, and at often times tongue-in-cheek this is delightful escapism at its best. Disney’s Mary Poppins maintains the integrity of the story, staying true to its elements, but also succeeds in conveying its own unique portrayal. With a light touch it explores the things that matter to kids and grown-ups alike (and reminds us of the things that should); and I challenge you to shamelessly unleash your inner child with this fabulously fun night out.
13 Oct- 16 Dec
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Mary Poppins the Musical - Review