I was honored and excited to take my six-year-old niece Elena to her first live theater production. And what better choice than the SCERA’s musical Mary Poppins?
If you’ve never been to the SCERA, it’s a different kind of theater experience. There are chairs to sit in that you can rent. OR you can bring your own chairs. OR you can bring blankets to sit on the large grassy hill. There are many treats to eat. OR you can bring your own picnic. I like that the SCERA offers so many options.
The set is dark gray, reminiscent of foggy London. There are many moveable pieces–one for a kitchen (look for the dancing spoons! Elena loved those!) for “A Spoonful of Sugar” and the fantastically fun “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, the bank for the scenes with Mr. Banks, the park with some AMAZING statues (and amazing actors that can stay still!), as well as Jane and Michael’s nursery and several others. The detail of the sets is a nod to set designer Nat Reed and his team.
I had never seen the live theater production of Mary Poppins, and having watched the movie about one million times, once the familiar songs were being sung OUT OF ORDER, I was a little freaked out. But I love how the songs made sense as much as they do in the movie. Hey, I can adapt.
The costumes were nothing short of gorgeous. And so many different costume changes! Costume Designer Deborah Bowman outdid herself with this production. Sound by Kendall Bowman was good but the background music drowned out a few singers from time to time.
The dance numbers were interesting–some seemed almost like an afterthought, but some were amazing. However, the tap number to “Step in Time”, choreographed by Scott Sackett was marvelous, and in fact, all the big numbers had Elena and many other audience members clapping and tapping their toes.
Josie Nilson as Mary Poppins was charming with her fun mannerisms and amazing voice. I admit, I am a huge Julie Andrews fangirl, so wasn’t sure if I wanted to see anyone do this role, but Nilson is very good and takes on this role with spirit and humor. She kindly posed with Elena after the show and made my niece’s night.
The other main cast has some great talent. Paul Black’s Bert is very watchable and fun–his voice is amazing and his movement also really added to his performance. Garrett Smit’s George Banks was one of my favorites as his transformation is really the biggest in the show. Smit takes Banks’ tightly wrapped character and ably transforms him into a loving husband and father. Bri Hintze’s Winifred Banks is delightful and she, too, had some acting chops to take her from a flighty woman of that age and time to a strong, loving, supportive wife and mother. (I loved when she put up her fists. Super cute.) The children playing Jane and Michael Banks are phenomenal. These roles are double cast and we saw Laura Randall as Jane and Maxwell Rimington as Michael. These two had some of the best accents in the show, and some of the best acting. Randall was fun and graceful and Rimington has an amazing comedic timing for someone so young. Two other standouts were Celesta Rimington as Mrs. Corry and Kelsey Thacker as Miss Andrew (the Holy Terror!). These women have outstanding voices, and both brought to their characters a perfection that really rounded out the production nicely. Sometimes it’s the co-stars that can really put your show over the top.
There was much flying that went on and it all went seamlessly. I was pretty amazed at how many people flew so many times! And every time someone popped up in the air, Elena’s eyes got huge and you could hear the crowd get pretty excited. It was pretty awesome.
Elena loved the dance number with the toys, especially the teddy bear. It had a magical quality that we all loved.
Director/Musical Director Jeremy Showgren kept his actors moving and the songs were gorgeous. The ensemble numbers especially just seemed absolutely perfect (or practically perfect anyway!)–their harmonies were lovely. A few times during the performance people got off from the musical track and this is to be expected for opening night. A few other glitchy things happened, like a door staying open that wasn’t supposed to, a broom being left onstage, but the performers involved all fixed that and it was fine.
We all loved the show, but I will say, it is long. It starts at 8:00 PM and we didn’t get out of there until after 10:00. Though I didn’t hear any crying children, if your kids are antsy or get grumpy if they stay up too late, I’d leave them home. However, for Mary Poppins lovers or anyone who loves a fun-filled family appropriate live show, give the SCERA’S Mary Poppins a go. You will love it.
GENERAL ADMISSION: $12 Adult, $10 Child (age 3-11), $10 Senior (age 65+). Reserved seating areas and group rates also available. For tickets, call (801) 225-ARTS or online.