I lost count long ago of the amount of times I watched the Disney classic Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The infectious melodies, magic tricks and enchanting scenarios would capture my imagination time and time again. So I jumped at the chance to see it live at QPAC.
I knew the movie inside out and expected that I would with ease follow the dialogue and musical numbers of the Australian stage adaptation. But I didn’t get the fun room cleaning, finger snapping, spoonful of sugar scene at the start and so became utterly dismayed. Very quickly I was distracted by all the many changes. Until I realised I would probably have critiqued the lack of originality had I seen a direct copy of the movie. So I began to enjoy it in all its supercalifragilisticexpielidotious-ness (did I spell that right?).
The most impressive thing by far was the set design and stagecraft, I was captivated right from the start by the paper fold out house. The carpet bag scene was there. Mary Poppins pulls out a hat stand and mirror from a bag that couldn’t possible fit those things. The fascinating illusion was re-created on the stage and I couldn’t work out how they did it! Throughout the play the set was simple and effective in setting the scene and creating the atmosphere. The costumes were also fairly authentic of not only the original movie but also of the era it was capturing. The very colourful costumes and sets made it very fun to engage with and was definately a play for all age groups.
‘It’s a jolly holiday with Mary, no wonder that it’s Mary that we love’. Once again there were magical twists and turns everywhere. Along with Jane and Michael Banks we were transported to Bert’s drawing and the adventures within. The visit to Mrs Corry’s shop was a joyous colourful affair to say the least. The great ‘chim-chiminey’ song gets sung by a chorus of tap dancing sweeps on the rooftops where in Bert’s words “There’s the whole world at your feet and who gets to see it but the birds, the stars, and the chimney sweeps”.
Verity Hunt-Ballard played the super nanny Mary Poppins brilliantly. She was witty and charming and everything I would expect to see of the magical British nanny. Her rendition of all the unforgettable songs including ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ and ‘Supercalifragilistic’ were delightful. But it was Matt Lee as Bert the jack-of-all-trades larrikin that absolutely stole the show even before he tap danced upside down on the ceiling! He was hilarious and believable in the role and if it’s one thing that the musical stage production added to the film it was more humour.
Musicals are always entertaining and this was certainly no exception with superb choreography, excellent acting, exceptional singing and an outstanding supporting orchestra. There is only one word to describe the plays brilliance and the enjoyment I had in watching it, yes you guessed it…SUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC!