Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone
Roger blocks his huge 60 member cast wonderfully and obtains excellent performances from them. The energetic dance numbers by Brian leave you breathless at the cast's excellent execution of the movements. The most impressive dance numbers are the tap dance for "Step in Time", the Toy dance for "Playing the Game" and the dancing statue and chorus in "Jolly Holiday." Alex obtains beautiful harmonic tones from his cast. The multitude of 500 gorgeous costumes are by Johnny Cagno while the sets and special effects are by John Silveira. Pretty and statuesque blonde, Meaghan Bruneault with a dark Mary Poppins wig, plays the iconic role of Mary. She is captivating as this magical nanny and her strong voice soars in "Practically Perfect", "Spoonful of Sugar", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", "Feed the Birds" and "Anything Can Happen" which induces a standing ovation at the end of the show. Meaghan's interactions with the two children and the whole cast is amazing. She really excels in this role. Tall, dark and handsome Bobby Sylvia also shines as Bert, the chimney sweep. He narrates the start of the show with "Chim Chim Cheree" which turns into a show stopping dance number later in the show as well as a nice duet between Bert and Mary. Bobby also sings "Jolly Holiday", "Let's Go Fly a Kite", and another show stopping tap dance in "Step in Time." I last reviewed Bobby as Vince Fontaine this past summer for New Bedford Festival Theatre. Meaghan and Bobby are practically perfect as the two leading players of this sensational musical.
The supporting players do a splendid job with their roles, too. John Silviera plays the strict father, George Banks. He displays his voice in "Cherry Tree Lane" with his family as well as in his two solos "A Man Has His Dreams" when he realizes he has lost the idealism that he once had and in ""Good For Nothing" when he's suspended from the bank. John makes a marvelous transition from strict martinet to more loving and caring father by the end of the show. Stefanie Bonalewicz LaFontaine shines as Mrs. Banks. She displays her powerful voice in "Being Mrs. Banks" when she thinks she's let down her husband and children and in "Anything Can Happen" when she decides to follow her heart and defend her husband. The two children performers 12 year old Hadleigh Andrade as Jane and ten year old Robert Goulet as Michael excel in these roles, where they are barely offstage. Their acting is impeccable and their terrific voices are heard in "Perfect Nanny", "Practically Perfect", "Jolly Holiday", "Spoonful of Sugar", "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "Step in Time." They not only sing but dance up a storm with the adults and their British accents are perfect. Hadleigh and Bobby are onstage almost the entire show and remain in character all night long. Michael's final line "I Love you, Mary Poppins", leaves the audience and me in tears. Bravo!
The villainess in this show is Miss Andrew wonderfully played by Kara Wilkinson who scares the crap out of the audience. She is a hoot as this dragon lady who ran roughshod over George Banks when he was a boy. Miss Andrew rejects Mary Poppins' spoon full of sugar to her own elixir "Brimstone and Treacle" with cod liver oil. She is a tyrant and a nightmare of a nanny. Kara's voice soars up to a high B in her number. She and Meaghan sing a reprise of her song when Mary Poppins banishes her from Jane and Michael's lives forever. Deanne Peterson plays the kindly, Mrs. Corry who runs a candy store where the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" dance stops the show with the singing and dancing of one and all. Mahria Trepes displays her comic prowess as the cook with many funny one liners and wild antics while Nishan Lawton as the butler also wins many laughs with his crazy antics and pratfalls especially when the kitchen set falls apart on him. He also plays the zoo keeper and the German inventor. Judy Rapoza as the Bird Lady tugs at your heartstrings with her song, "Feed the Birds" with Mary Poppins, where she teaches Michael how to be kind to others. So for a marvelous and magical version of this heartwarming Disney musical, be sure to catch Studio Theatre Company's rendition of "Mary Poppins" before she flies out of Fall River for good. Run do not walk to the box office. Tell them Tony sent you.