Flying High in New Digs
There is nothing like having a new home – Mary Poppins flies into the Banks’ household and becomes an important part of the family, even though her stay is relatively brief. The production of Mary Poppins is also located in a new home – the Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge. It’s so exciting to see a large scale production in a brand new theatre!
The stage story of Mary Poppins, for the most part, follows the same plot lines as the popular Disney movie, which, by the way is almost 50 years old! The Banks children are running wild: their mother is distracted and their father is gruff, so the children feel neglected. They go through several nannies before Mary Poppins blows in to straighten them out, and love them at the same time. But in the stage version Mrs. Banks is not a suffragette, instead by the end of the show she demonstrates what a strong woman she is. The stage version also has a delightful trip to a candy store not seen in the movie.
As Drayton Entertainment says in their new slogan “Believe in the Magic”, and their production of Mary Poppins is filled with magic which is far more spell-binding than any film. Mary arrives out of nowhere, and then proceeds to unpack her carpet bag. She lifts the most amazing things out of it. Then she and Jane unfold a quilt, and suddenly her bed appears!
In the kitchen, the furniture magically repairs itself. Bert, the chimney sweep, cartwheels over roof tops and leaps through the air from one chimney to the next. And Mary magically flies across the stage at various times.
The dancers in this show create magic, too. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is inventive in the way they present that amazing word, and provides a very energetic ensemble number. Step in Time brings together all the chimney sweeps in a lively tap dance.
Jayme Armstrong, a Drayton Entertainment favourite, is “practically perfect” as Mary Poppins. Huron Country Playhouse patrons will recognize Jayme as Guinevere in Camelot, Rosemary in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, and Judy in 9 to 5. The role of Bert is played by the charming Mark Ledbetter, who previously played it on Broadway.
Jayne Lewis is the bird lady who tugs at your heart strings and also the terrifying evil nanny Miss Andrews. She is amazing in both roles, and belts out the frightening “Brimstone and treacle” song with a powerful voice. We were delighted when we overheard a young man sitting behind us say “Mom still has it”, after her solo!
Karen Wood as the housekeeper Mrs. Brill provides much laughter with her cheeky attitude. Also noteworthy are the children sharing the roles of Jane and Michael: Trek Buccino, Hadley Mustakas, Jayden Greig and Avery Kadish.
In fact the entire cast makes magic with this show – a memorable evening for any child – or any adult, for that matter.
Mary Poppins continues with eight shows a week until April 28 at Dunfield Theatre, Cambridge. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-621-8000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check http://www.draytonentertainment.com/
If you can’t make it to Cambridge to see Mary Poppins , this very production will be coming to Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend August 7 to 31, 2013.
Based on the stories of P. L. Travers & the Walt Disney film
Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
Book by Julian Fellowes
Directed by Nigel West
Choreography by Leigh Constantine
Music Direction by Elizabeth Baird
Performed by Jayme Armstrong, Mark Ledbetter, James Kall, Jackie Mustakas, Trek Buccino Hadley Mustakas, Jayden Greig, Avery Kadish et al.
Dunfield Theatre, (Drayton Entertainment), Cambridge
March 6 to April 28, 2013
Reviewed by Mary Alderson