Mary Poppins Review – A Spoonful of Sugar

Amanda Greig as Mary Poppins in MARY POPPINS - Photo by Miriam Billington

Based on P.L. Travers children’s book and the 1964 Disney film, MARY POPPINS explodes onto the Morgan-Wixson stage with the enthusiasm, energy, and magical moments that have endeared the story to millions. With music and lyrics by Richard M. And Robert B. Sherman (the Sherman Brothers) and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, MARY POPPINS  was first performed in Great Britain in December 2004, where it won two Olivier Awards (best actress and best theater choreography). In fact, MARY POPPINS was the only Disney musical to premier in the UK; on top of that, no children under three were allowed because the show was “too scary.” Broadway soon followed, with 2,619 performances over six years beginning in 2006. In 2018, this timeless classic continues to enchant audiences.

Spencer Johnson and Eileen O’Donnell – Photo by Miriam Billington

It’s 1910 on Cherry Tree Lane – and the heart of the Edwardian era in England. Trouble is brewing in the Banks household, where Jane (Sadie Fisher) and her brother Michael (Ethan Kuwata) have just polished off yet another nanny in a long list of failed attempts. Papa George (Spencer Johnson) and Mama Winifred (Eileen O’Donnell) are at their wit’s end. But the answer to their dreams is hovering just overhead. MARY POPPINS, with her tendency to “pop in and pop out” of children’s lives, has arrived.  Suddenly, the world becomes magical and glows with the effervescence which can only be provided by Mary (Amanda Greig) and her pal Bert (Philip McBride) – with the assistance of their unusual and unforgettable friends.

Spencer Johnson, Eileen O’Donnell, Sadie Fisher, and Ethan Kuwata – Photo by Miriam Billington

But trouble doesn’t usually travel alone. The grand dames who make up the cream of London’s society are having a problem accepting Winifred, an actress who gave up the scandalous stage to marry conservative banker George. And George, in an effort to show some heart, has made a few questionable decisions at work which may well send him into the ranks of the unemployed. To make matters worse, after the Banks kids reject Mary and she floats off to friendlier climes, George’s irascible and tyrannical old nanny surfaces to offer them a dose of brimstone and treacle.

Cast of MARY POPPINS – Photo by Miriam Billington

But it’s all in fun as – eventually – everything works itself out to a “happily-ever-after” ending which will leave you smiling. Kudos to Kristie Mattsson, the talented director, Andrew Lederman and Daniel Koh, the imaginative music directors, and spirited choreographer Lauren Blair for making this small theater ring with melody. And let’s not forget the large and talented cast who make MARY POPPINS come alive. The principals strike just the right note of mystical fantasy, while the merry crew eagerly and enthusiastically sing and dance their hearts out (with some nifty toe-tapping to boot). MARY POPPINS wouldn’t be MARY POPPINS without the lovely and creative costume design by Kristie Mattsson, Anne Gesling, and the theatre company. Tom Brown’s sumptuous set design will make your eyes spin as the world changes from moment to moment.  All this in a “last minute” theatrical potpourri. From seven to 70 (but who’s counting), MARY POPPINS is an eye-catching, mind-boggling musical joy which shouldn’t be missed.

Philip McBride as Bert – Photo by Miram Billington

SPLASH SELECTION

MARY POPPINS runs through August 4, 2018, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. There will be no Friday performances on 7/27/18 and 8/3/18. Instead, on Saturday, 7/28/18 and on Saturday 8/4/18, there will be performances at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. each Saturday. The Morgan-Wixson Theatre is located at 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405. Tickets are $28 (students and seniors $23). For information and reservations, call 310-828-7519 or go online.

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