A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Mar 13, 2013
‘Mary Poppins’ Delights Theatergoers Young and Old
Recently, in a desperate attempt to soothe my baby’s fussing, I began talking to her in a chipper, no-nonsense British accent. Almost immediately, she stopped crying and gave a big smile. I dubbed it the Mary Poppins effect.
What is it about that iconic British nanny that captivates us? Whatever the combination of characteristics that makes her “practically perfect in every way,” her appeal led to a full and enthusiastic audience last night as the musical Mary Poppins opened at Overture Center.
It was fun to see so many kids attending the show, and throughout the performance I thought about how they must be enjoying it. Because the musical is dazzling—not only telling a sweet story about family but doing it with fun, whimsy and magic.
The sets are fantastic, and it was a joy to watch, for instance, the exterior of a London home open up like a dollhouse to reveal the cozy interior. Or a normal park transform into an extravaganza of colors, patterns, flowers and statues come to life. And I still don’t know how Mary Poppins was able to pull a coat rack, tall plant, wall mirror and clock out of her bag and set the items about the nursery of her two challenging charges, Jane and Michael Banks.
The young actors playing those roles—Alexa Niziak and Lucas Schultz last night—were impressive, combining charm and powerful voices. They more than held their own alongside the quirky Mary Poppins, played by Madeline Trumble, and Con O’Shea-Creal’s kind chimney-sweeping Bert. A pleasant surprise was the storyline of Jane and Michael’s mother, the spirited Winifred Banks played by Kerry Conte, who seeks to find her identity within the role of wife and mother.
The musical features the songs you’ve known since you first saw the 1964 film but makes them fresh. “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was absolutely delightful, mixing music with dance and witty features. Later, Bert lead a fun number with tap-dancing chimney sweeps and gravity-defying moves.
And when Mary Poppins took to the sky, it wasn’t just the young audience members grinning up at the stage.
Mary Poppins runs through March 17 at Overture Center. For more information, visit overturecenter.com.
Photo courtesy of Overture Center.