Welcome to the wonderful world of Walt Disney with "Mary Poppins" and the third musical of Theatre by the Sea's 81st season. Mary Poppins, the musical opened on Broadway on Nov 16, 2006 closed March 3, 2013 running for 2619 performances. It is now a full Broadway musical with 44 major awards worldwide. The story of Mary Poppins, the magical nanny who flies into the troubled lives of the Banks children will dazzle and delight audiences of all ages. Bert, the chimney sweep welcomes the audience into the world of Mary Poppins with "Chim Chim Cheree". We then follow Mary's exploits throughout London while she charms each person she comes in contact with. The flying special effects captures the hearts of every audience member, making them leap to their feet at the curtain call. Director/choreographer Kevin Hill out does himself with this spectacular musical treat. He is aided in his task by musical director Milton Granger and his talented orchestra. Bravo on a job very well done.
Kevin's energetic dance numbers leave you breathless at the expert rendition of the cast especially impressive is the tap dance for "Step in Time", "Playing the Game",the Toy dance at the end of Act 1 and the "Jolly Holiday dancers with a superb dancing statue Neleus played by Brad Trump. Milton obtains beautiful harmonic balance from the cast and orchestra. The colorful, beautiful set is by Bert Scott while the multitude of gorgeous costumes are by David Costa Cabral. Leading this 24 member cast is Kerry Conte as Mary Poppins. She is a gorgeous brunette and is captivating as this magical nanny. Kerry's gorgeous soprano voice soars in "Practically Perfect","Spoon Full of Sugar", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", "Feed the Birds" and "Anything Can Happen". She is phenomenal in this role. Her flying in and out of the theater is brilliantly executed by ZFX inc.Brad Bradley also shines as Bert. He narrates the start of the show by singing "Chim Chim Cher-ee" which turns into a huge dance number later in the show as well as a duet between Bert and Mary. Brad also sings "Jolly Holiday", "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "Step in Time" another huge dance number. The huge dances bring down the house with thunderous applause. Kerry and Brad make the perfect leads in this well known musical Disney tale.
The supporting performers do an excellent job with their roles, too. James Walsh plays the strict George Banks. He displays his strong voice in "Cherry Tree Lane" with his family and in his two solos "A Man Has His Dreams" when he realizes how he has changed from being an idealistic youth and "Good for Nothing" when he is depressed after being suspended. James makes a splendid transition from martinet to a more loving, caring father by show's end. Haley Swindel shines as Winifred Banks with her powerhouse voice in "Being Mrs. Banks" when she thinks she has 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, Bobby Miller III as Michael and Scarlet Keene-Connole as Jane excel in these two roles. Their acting is impeccable and their marvelous voices are heard in "Perfect Nanny'', "Practically Perfect", "Jolly Holiday", "Spoonful of Sugar", "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "Step in Time". They dance up a storm with the adults. Bobby and Scarlet are onstage almost the whole show and remain in character during it. Sydney Carriero and Alexander LeBlanc play Jane and Michael at select performances.
The villainess of the show is Miss Andrew. Tonya Thompson is a hoot as Miss Andrew who rejects Mary Poppins spoonful of sugar to use her own elixir "Brimstone and Treacle" with castor oil. She is a tyrant and a nightmare of a nanny who scared George as a child. She and Kerry do a reprise of this song when Mary Poppins banishes her from Jane and Michael's lives. Tonya also plays the kindly Mrs. Corry in Act 1 during the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" segment. Ellen Peterson tugs at your heartstrings as the bird lady who sings the poignant "Feed the Birds" with Mary. She and Brian Padgett do a topnotch job as the housekeeper and butler. Kudos to the entire cast on a fantastic job. So for a splendid rendition of this terrific Disney tale, be sure to catch "Mary Poppins" at Theatre by the Sea before she flies out of town. Press night isn't complete without the sumptuous and delicious buffet prepared by Duane Crowe and his lovely wife, Karleen at the Bistro by the Sea. Run do not walk to the box office to get your tickets before they are completely sold out. Tell them Tony sent you.