by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The Broadway in Jacksonville Series opened “Mary Poppins,” the 2006 Tony Award winning musical, on January 22, which will run through Sunday, January 27. Call 904-442-BWAY or select a seat online at artistseriesjax.org. Performances are at the Times Union Center in the Moran Theatre in downtown Jacksonville.
“Mary Poppins” is based on the popular 1964 Disney film of the same name, adapted from an earlier series of children’s books by author P. L. Travers, and is a spectacular and family friendly musical.
It is the story of magical English nanny, Mary Poppins (wonderfully performed by Madeline Trumble), who suddenly appears and takes over the household of George and Winifred Banks. George is a London banker absorbed in his work while Winifred is overwhelmed with the demands of being a wife and mother. Mary teaches their two unruly children to improve their behavior and enjoy life through a series of adventures and lessons, and also succeeds in teaching the adults as well; being happy and cheerful only requires the proper attitude toward life.
For children of all ages, Mary Poppins has sparking entertainment with charm and brightness. There are magic tricks, special effects, and terrific choreography. The characters are larger than life, including Bert (Con O’Shea-Creal), the whimsical chimney sweep who is a jack of all trades; Mrs. Brill (Tregoney Shepherd) the hilarious housekeeper and cook; and daunting Miss Andrew (Karen Murphy), the unkind ex-nanny whose prior charges never ever want to see her again. Kids love to watch kids act and there are two delightful children, Jane Banks (Julianna Rigoglioso) and Michael Banks (Zachary Mackiewicz). Of course, of delight to adults and children alike, are Mary Poppins flying through the air and Bert dancing upside down on the ceiling. (We won’t tell any trade secrets, you have to see the show to learn how he does it.)
The sets are fabulous, including the London home of the Banks family, which fills the stage from top to bottom and opens from the front like a dollhouse, a park scene with enormous painted flowers, and a depiction of George’s bank, which with towering columns and a domed ceiling. The many Edwardian costumes are colorful and creative.
We can’t leave out one of the most important parts of this show, the music. There are those well known melodies from the movie that include “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Feed the Birds.” The two blockbuster dance and song numbers were “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” a song that, judging by audience applause and enthusiasm , was definitely a showstopper, while “Step in Time” featured an army of chimney sweeps tap dancing to perfection, concluding with the famous ceiling dance.
The show runs a fast-paced two and a half hours including the intermission. There were dozens of excited children of all ages in the opening night audience and it was obvious that the a good time was had by all who saw this dazzling show. Don’t miss the opportunity to see what is now a classic. Every seat in the house is good, as the lavish production uses the large stage, massive sets, and some forty performers to fill the Moran Theatre.
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM