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Mary Poppins

  • Theatre, Musicals
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Mary Poppins the Musical 2022
    Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud
  2. Mary Poppins the Musical 2022
    Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud
  3. Mary Poppins the Musical 2022
    Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud
  4. Mary Poppins the Musical 2022
    Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

A hugely talented cast take to this beloved production like wind to a kite, resulting in a lively jamboree that is a sugar-coated delight for all

It was a particularly tempestuous day in Melbourne, when flashes of hail and cold blasts appeared amid what was supposed to be the pinnacle of summer. Then again, what better conditions for Mary Poppins to soar onto the stage with her umbrella – through wind and rain – and enliven all our evenings with her incandescent charm in what is a practically perfect musical production of the Disney classic? 

This musical romp has made its way to Her Majesty's Theatre after its smash-hit season in Sydney. Originally created by Australian-British writer PL Travers, this production is co-created and produced by theatre heavyweight Cameron Mackintosh (The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Cats), who teamed up with writer Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), and features music and lyrics by the Sherman brothers, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

Like in Sydney, this adaptation is anchored by the the effervescent Stefanie Jones (Muriel’s Wedding the Musical, Sound of Music), who plays the famous nanny, and the spirited Jack Chambers (Singin’ in the Rain, Burn the Floor, Hairspray), who plays the happy-go-lucky Bert.

For the unbeknownst, the tale of Mary Poppins follows the nanny as she uses magic to help the fragmented Banks family who reside at 17 Cherry Tree Lane in Edwardian-era London. Poppins takes the two tricky children, Jane and Michael (Harriet Alder and Sebastian Sero) under her charge – who change nannies as often they do clothes – and, through a series of adventures with Bert, they learn that with the right amount of imagination, anything is possible. 

The casting is superb; Jones soars to the highest height in the title role; Chambers is a fittingly playful homage to Dick Van Dyke’s iconic Bert, whose dance numbers will sweep you off your feet (and around the corners of the stage), while the Banks children relish the mischievousness of their roles, delighting crowds with their tongue-in-cheek rapport.

Lucy Maunder plays a charming Mrs Banks, and the trajectory of Tom Wren’s Mr Banks from an austere patriarch into a doting father is a sight that warms the cockles of your heart. Australia's leading lady of musical theatre, Marina Prior, takes on two roles, as both the evil nanny Miss Andrew and the Miss Havisham-looking Bird Woman. Warning: Prior’s impassioned rendition of ‘Feed the Birds’ will leave you blubbering and wishing you had some bags of tuppence to hurl onto the stage.

Award-winning costume designer Bob Crowley captivates too with his bottomless bag of lively scenes and costume fits. From the dollhouse set of Cherry Tree Lane to the MC Esher-looking Bank of England, you’ll be left gawping as the sets seamlessly switch. In particular, the scene where the dreary London park is given a kaleidoscopic facelift for ‘Jolly Holiday’ is like watching an explosion in a paint factory.

You can expect to hear all the big numbers, but it is the slick choreography – led by Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear – for hits like ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ and ‘Step in Time’ that will leave you grinning ear to ear. Diehard Poppins fans may miss out on numbers such as ‘I Love to Laugh’ from 1964, but this is a production that goes beyond the parameters of the film and offers its own rollicking tribute.

This production will make you feel everything, everywhere, all at once – you’ll laugh, cry, clap, root, jump, cower, gawp, hoot, smile and slap. A standing ovation greeted the end of the opening night performance, and a roar of applause followed Mary’s gravity-defying exit. No spoonful of sugar is needed for this production to go down any better.

Consider yourself an avid theatregoer? Check out the best theatre and musicals in Melbourne this month.

Saffron Swire
Written by
Saffron Swire


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