February 14, 2012
Providence Performing Arts Center
Who doesn’t love the Disney movie classic, Mary Poppins? As children, we all dreamed of jumping into chalk drawings, having tea parties on the ceiling, and dancing on the rooftops of London with the practically perfect nanny. Well, I did anyway!
Almost fifty years later, the beloved story of Mary Poppins has been made into a highly successful Broadway musical, first opening on Broadway in 2006. It has been so popular with audiences that it is now touring the United States, most recently visiting the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) on February 8th through February 19th.
Mary Poppins, the musical, is mostly true to the movie with only a few added characters and several new songs including “Anything Can Happen” and “Practically Perfect”. Of course, the underlying themes of love, family, imagination, gratitude, and benevolence prevail in the musical. This show is abundant with special effects, which are not limited to Mary Poppins flying across the stage, Bert walking on the ceiling, and more- much to a child’s delight! The choreography was flawless; most impressive were the energetic tap numbers performed to “Step in Time” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. I hope I spelled that correctly.
Mary Poppins employs a top notch, first-rate cast. Rachel Wallace, who played the title character, was excellent as the practically perfect nanny. Her singing was “pristine”, and (forgive me for the repetitive use of this phrase) “practically perfect”. I particularly enjoyed “Spoonful of Sugar” and the very poignant, “Feed the Birds”, which I feel really captures the essence of the story. Speaking of “Feed the Birds” and strong performances, I was blown away by the performance of Q. Smith who portrayed both the Bird Woman and Miss Andrew, the dark nanny who replaces Mary Poppins temporarily in Act II. After a beautifully rich rendition of “Feed the Birds” in Act I, she blew the audience away with her belting skills during her performance of “Brimstone and Treacle”. Mary Poppins and Miss Andrew may be rivals, but they both stole the show.
I admit that I missed Mrs. Banks’ song, “Sister Suffragette”, but it was replaced by a pretty song called, “Being Mrs. Banks” that stayed true to the theme of autonomy and freedom for women.
Overall, Mary Poppins is a triple threat in itself, with superb singing, dancing, and acting.
Check out Mary Poppins at PPAC before February 19th.