‘Wind’s in the east, mist comin‘ in. Like something is brewin‘ about to begin. Can’t put my finger on what lies in store. But I feel what’s to happen, all happened before…’
Broadway in Chicago, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh present MARY POPPINS for a four week limited engagement. It’s the beloved story of the bewitching nanny. The Banks’ household is in disarray. Dad is a work-aholic. Mom is uncertain of her role. Kids have just scared away another nanny. Into this mayhem, a mysterious woman arrives to bring disorder to the chaos. Her unorthodox ways is just ‘the spoon full of sugar‘ to sweeten life’s hardships. The Banks family is about to have an intervention… of the magical variety. They all need to change but don’t know how. The new nanny will help because this MARY POPPINS is ‘Practically Perfect!’
Based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney 1964 film, the show boasts many of the old favorite tunes with an unexpected twist. ‘A Spoonful of Sugar‘ is no longer just medicine in the nursery. Now, it’s liquid courage for the entire household. (I try to put aside the idea Mary P is drugging the family and servants.) The frolicking number destroys and repairs the kitchen during the song. Scenic and Costume Designer Bob Crowley whips up his own enchantment. The outside of the Banks’ home is this sketch cut-out of a townhouse. It opens up like a pop-up book to reveal the living area. It drops down to showcase the nursery. Add another layer and it’s the rooftops of London. Spin the house around and the kitchen folds out. Crowley creates this origami- like change. The bank scene is this overwhelming, distorted fortress. Fascinating! The production itself is a visual stunner. Under the direction of Richard Eyre, the scene changes transition with an amazing smooth and quick pace.
Another childhood favorite is ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidicious.‘ It’s introduced this time with a ‘YMCA‘ dance movement. The large and energetic cast clad in Crowley’s vibrant imagination perform the synchronized line dance. The fast movement mesmerizes. The entire show captivates with blockbuster effects. Nicolas Dromard (Bert) sweeps up his own astonishing feats. Dromard climbs up the side of the stage and across the top. This is tremendous in itself but he sings and tap dances upside down. Wow, Dromard! It IS a ‘a jolly holidays with you, Bert!’ Anchoring the show is the effervescent Rachel Wallace (Mary). Wallace is not ‘Practically Perfect,‘ she is perfect! Wallace radiates this bright, shiny confidence with theatrical exits and entrances. Always smiling, Wallace sings, dances and flies! At first, it’s just across the stage but later she flies out over the audience and up to the Cadillac Palace rafters. The marveling stunt is a little disconcerting. Seriously, I’m still not certain how she does it and makes the curtain call. It must be magic!
An evil nanny, dancing statues, gingerbread stars, this MARY POPPINS has more songs, more backstories, and more magic than the 1964 film. (Sorry, Dick & Julie!) The only hexing element of this production is some faulty microphones on opening night especially with the kids. The kids’ delivery of tantrum-esque lines are hard to completely comprehend. In addition, Mr. Northbrook’s mic was not working at all. Technology can be its own black magic. Still, to all kids, young and old, this MARY POPPINS is a supernatural spectacle to experience before it blows out of Chicago.
Sticking with his review at intermission, 8-year old Kaleb describes it with ‘hilarious, crazy, magnificent.‘ His mom, Lashawnda, goes with ‘colorful, lively, wonderful.’
Running Time: Two hours and forty minutes includes an intermission.
At Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph
Based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney 1964 film
Original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Richard B. Sherman
Book by Julian Fellowes
New songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe
Co-created by Cameron Mackintosh
Orchestrations by William David Brohn
Co-direction and choreography by Matthew Bourne
Musically directed by Daniel Bowling
Directed by Richard Eyre
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30pm
Wednesdays at 2pm
Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm
Sundays at 1 pm and 6:30pm
Thru November 6th
Filed under: Broadway In Chicago
Tags: "Mary Poppins", Anthony Drewe, Bob Crowley, Broadway n Chicago, Cameron Mackintosh, Chicago's Mary Poppins, Daniel Bowling, George Stiles, Julian Fellows, Katy Walsh, Matthew Bourne, Nicolas Dromard, Rachel Wallace, Richard Eyre, Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, William David Brohn