Never having encountered Mary Poppins in any of her forms – musical or film or the books on which the musical is based, I was not sure what to expect on the opening night in Adelaide.
From the lifting of the curtain to the final curtain call I was totally enchanted.
There are so many things which together lead to a successful outcome. Mary Poppins ticks all the boxes, from acting, music, dancing, set design, lighting and special effects. But it is also essential to have a narrative to which people can relate. Unhappy families, disturbed children, repressed father and unappreciated mother – perhaps a scenario which was a familiar situation to the writer of the original Mary Poppins books. It is maybe that which made a theme that could have seemed a banal ‘happy ever after’ musical to one which made a positive statement, couched in music, dance, drama and magic. Family and people count more than money and worldly success.
Both Mary Poppins, played by Stephanie Jones and Bert, played by Jack Chambers excelled in their roles. Mary Poppins glided, danced, skipped, in high heels, elegant costumes and an impeccable accent as she dominated the stage. She was Mary Poppins.
Bert as her sympathetic ally, established a sympathetic, warm character, along with great dance and vocal skills. That they were essential to the success of the show goes without saying, but there was strength in the excellence of the number of all the actors, whether their role was large or small. Sophie Isaac and Reuben Koroczyk were convincing as children who are basically good kids, but also holy terrors. Gareth Isaac as Robertson Ay was very funny, in an earnest sort of way, and Lisa Sontag as Miss Lark added a delightful comic touch. The list could go on and on, as there were no weak links in this cast.
Set changes were effective and smooth. The dancing was some of the best I have seen in a musical, the music pleasing and the special effects, which are an essential part of so many musicals, all worked, to the wonderment of children sitting near me. The show may have proved too long and difficult for very young children, but the older ones were kept involved from start to finish, as were the adults.
Mary Poppins is a triumph of professionalism, in which all sections of the production team performed to a vey high standard. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable musical.