Mary Poppins was given the Disney Broadway treatment a few years ago and Disney is the best at Broadway. The show opened on Broadway after a successful run in the West End and was recognized with seven Tony Award Nominations and Six Drama Desk Nominations.
The current production has seen some updates since it played Dallas Summer Musicals a couple of years ago and they are major improvements on what was already a great show. The most notable change is the dramatic contrast between the the lack of color in the sets before Mary Poppins arrives, and after she leaves, the almost muted colors in the areas of the house where the parents reside, and the vibrancy of the colors when Mary Poppins takes the kids into her world.
I was reminded of Tom Ford's The Single Man, and the brilliant way Ford used modern technology to maintain a grayish hue and near lack of color in the face of Colin Firth, and how he illustrated the few moments in the film Firth's character actually felt alive by infusing his face with color. It was brilliant and dramatic when Ford did it and it is here as well.
Where Mary Poppins shines above nearly all other musicals is where it counts and that is the songs. Nearly every song is one you know or is so instantly infectious you will be humming when you leave. It is rare that all songs are memorable. This show is great fun especially if you have kids, this is a show that makes a great family night. Something the kids will love are the special effects, they are so subtle you may not notice some, but they are there and some are so perfectly executed you will not realize it is not reality-this is what this story is all about-blurring the lines between imagination and reality. Mary Poppins is put in charge of two unruly children that are all but ignored by their parents. Mary as their Nanny brings them into line by igniting their imaginations.
The standouts in this production are Q. Smith as the Birdwoman and Miss Andrew and Tonya Thompson as Ms Corry. Case Dillard who was in the original Broadway cast and on the first tour lights up the stage as Bert. Anytime he is on stage is a joy. His “Step in Time” is one of the greatest musical numbers I have ever seen.
It is no secret that it is sheer laziness and greed that keeps movies as musicals premiering every year on the great white way. It is a known product that people are familiar with, so the people with the money to finance a show are much quicker to finance a movie to a musical production because the risk of loss is less. This lack of creativity and the interest of money over art leads to some pretty horrible productions (Xanadu, Young Frankenstein). But Sometimes it works (Hairspray, The Producers) and here it not only works, it is amazing!
Mary Poppins plays Bass Hall through April 7, Tickets are $38-99.00. Coming up at Bass Hall April 19th-Carol Burnett-a show where the audience asks the Questions and June 25-July 1st Blue Man Group-this is selling fast. All tickets available at http://basshall.com/
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