Everyone’s Favorite High-Flying Nanny Has Landed At The Westchester Broadway Theatre!

Published: Thursday, May 22, 2014 12:00 pm By: Kristen Weyer Source: NY THEATRE GUIDE

Mary Poppins will be playing until the wind changes on July 27th. Abounding with kicks, flips and twirls, and full of songs both new and beloved, Mary Poppins is sure to delight audiences of all ages.

The endearing storyline of Mary Poppins is a familiar one to most of us. The Banks family requires a nanny for their two rambunctious children, but gets more than they bargained for in Mary Poppins. She proceeds to not only take care of the children, but to fix the entire family. Few, besides the very young, have not heard of the magical flying nanny who can fix any problem with a “Spoonful of Sugar” and a spit-spot! Most, however, will be intrigued by this version, which is decidedly darker than its movie predecessor. Here the members of the Banks family are portrayed as realistic people with actual, serious problems. No longer is Mr. Banks (Joe Dellger) simply a distracted, slightly frustrated father, but rather, a truly angry man with deep emotional scarring from his own childhood. Gone is the Mrs. Banks (Leisa Mather), who we’ve previously known as a lovable, if slightly air-headed, suffragette. In her place is a competent woman yearning to be a caregiver to her own children, and an effective helper to a husband who doesn’t see her worth. While Jane (Jane Shearin) and Michael (Brandon Singel) were actually very good children who just wanted love and attention, here they are selfish and angry, with serious attitude problems. They really are in need of the magic of Mary Poppins. That being said, it still has all the qualities of the happy, fun musical we know and love. If anything, the added solemnity makes for a more heartwarming ending as we see the journey they were on to become a true family.

From “Chim Chim Cher-ee” to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” the music and energetic dance sequences, brilliantly choreographed by Jonathan Stahl and Richard Stafford, keep you fully entertained. “Step In Time” was especially memorable, performed as an impressive tap number. Conducted by Leo P. Carusone, the live orchestra provided beautiful, soaring music to tunes both familiar and new. While each recognizable song was eagerly anticipated, the unknown newer pieces were also very enjoyable. Except for one number entitled “Playing the Game”, in which Jane and Michaels’ abused toys come alive to air their grievances, which is most accurately described as incredibly creepy.

Each scene was a delight, not only to the ears but also to the eyes. With sliding backdrops, rolling props, and a carousel that rises from the floor, the set design by Steve Loftus makes impressive use of the exposed stage. The costuming by Derek Lockwood was outstanding. There were multiple changes for each character, with elaborate historically accurate pieces, as well bright and colorful fanciful ones.

All of this, delightful as it was, would have amounted to nothing, were it not for the impressive performances of the cast to tie it all together. There was no one who could be pointed out as weaker than the rest. The quality of the performances, both in their acting and musicality, was phenomenal. Lauren Blackman, as Mary Poppins, left no doubt as to her deserving the role. Her strong, clear voice rang out in the theater, whether she was singing or speaking. Leo Ash Evens was wonderful as the wise and lovable Bert. He immediately wins you over with his well-executed accent, an intriguing blend of Irish lilt and Cockney diction, and his jovial, cheeky grin. Joe Dellger and Leisa Mather, as Mr. and Mrs. Banks, portrayed a couple you wanted to root for, while both Jane Shearin and Brandon Singel showed incredible talent as Jane and Michael Banks. Perhaps the most remarkable of the smaller roles was Jan Neuberger as Miss Andrew. While only in a few scenes, her incredible vocal ability reached heights that were impressive and unexpected.

With its soaring melodies, enthusiastic dances and ultimate messages of love and perseverance, Mary Poppins is a must see for the whole family. It reminds us that “anything can happen if you let it.”

Running Time: 3 hours with one 30 minute intermission.

Mary Poppins is playing at the Westchester Broadway Theatre through July 27, 2014. The WBT is a dinner theatre, and tickets for dinner and show range from $54 to $80 depending on date of performance. For tickets contact the box office at (914)592-2222.