Review: Westchester Broadway Theatre: Mary Poppins

Published: Monday, May 19, 2014 By: Michael J. Muldoon Source: More Sugar

Mary Poppins, a magical English, nanny is remarkably chock full of history. First, she is the lead character in no less than eight books, written by an Australian: P. L. Travers, starting in 1934. Second, she is perhaps best known for the 1964 Walt Disney movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The film was nominated for a then record thirteen nominations, including Best Picture, and won five, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews. Third, there is the musical, by Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman and Julian Fellowes, which started in London in 2004 and ran for three years. Nominated for eight Olivier Awards, it won two. The Broadway production ran from November, 2006 to March 2013, 30th longest of all time, and garnered seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, and won for Scenic Design.

Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman, brothers, winners of Grammy and Oscars for MARY POPPINS, also collaborated on songs for CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, THE JUNGLE BOOK, and THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE. Detracting from their many accomplishments is the fact they wrote “It’s a Small World After All” for the 1964 World’s Fair, considering by cognoscenti as the worst song to have stuck in your head. Julian Fellowes won the Academy Award for GOSFORD PARK and is the creator of DOWNTOWN ABBEY.

Starting With a dollhouse on stage and outlines of chimneys, this MARY POPPINS is a toy chest of fun. She flys through the air with her signature umbrella. With a magical suitcase filled with a hat stand, plant and telescope, etc. she is every child’s dream of an engaging companion. Lauren Blackman is superb in the title role. With her perfect posture, crisp movements and gorgeous voice, she delights the child in all of us. Leo Ash Evens as Bert, the chimney sweep, is wonderful; singing, dancing and storytelling. Joseph Dellger is quite moving as George Banks and is matched nicely by Leisa Mather as Mrs. Banks. The story belies the depression era roots of the book with the threat of losing a home and being tossed out on the street. Jan Neuberger is outstanding as Miss Andrews. Her character is chilling and her voice range; astonishing. Amongst the excellent work done by this large and capable cast is Laura Cable singing “Feed the Birds” and Karen Murphy as Miss Brill.

You probably know many of the songs, “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “Feed the Birds,” but this WBT show is full of surprises; all of them good. Bring a child and let MARY POPPINS bring out the child in you.