Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Show & Tell Review: Mary Poppins “Practically Perfect in Every Way”

The second of my assignments this year as one of the Show & Tell reviewers was opening night of Mary Poppins at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center on March 6, 2012. I’ve been a major fan of the remarkable nanny since I was introduced to her long ago in my childhood, and read (and reread) the books avidly as they appeared – often running through the entire set again in the long winters of Wisconsin. So I was absolutely delighted when that assignment came my way, and the actual experience definitely didn’t disappoint.

Snippets of the well-loved songs keep running through my head as I write this. Rachel Wallace brought the magical nanny to life brilliantly, and winningly. Her voice is spectacular, and mannerisms perfect for the precise but loving nanny. Case Dillard is a perfect Bert, whether as a sweep or in one of his other “identities” that we got to experience, and the dance number where he goes up the wall was spectacular!

A few other performers merit special mention too – Tonya Thompson as Mrs. Curry (a character I actually didn’t remember) brought the stage to life with brilliant colors and amazing settings. Q Smith eloquently brought the Bird Woman and the not-nice nanny, Miss Andrew, to life. I was actually startled to see her name listed as both of those characters, one extremely appealing, and the other not!

The sets were amazing. I especially liked the gigantic rendering of Mary Poppins’ parrot-head umbrella under which the action took place for quite a period of time. Very cool! My companion for the evening kept mentioning the brilliance of the flowers and the settings in general too!

As to the music, all of the very familiar (and very singable) songs were present, along with several new songs. "Practically Perfect," "Being Mrs. Banks," and "Brimstone And Treacle" especially come to mind.

And then there is the statue Adonis who comes to life, played by Ian Campayno. I can still imagine the expressions on the kids’ faces when they see him cavorting around the park.

The only teensy complaint that we had was hearing Jane and Michael, who spoke very fast and not too loudly. But in the overall spectrum of things, that is only a tiny fault. Overall the evening more than lived up to my high expectations, and I would give the performances a hearty thumbs up!

Makes me want to go back and reread the books all over again!

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