Theatre Mirror Reviews - "MARY POPPINS"

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note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Welcome to the wonderful world of Walt Disney and the magical musical "Mary Poppins" which is Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre's second musical of their 61st season. This show is based on the P.L. Travers' books and the 1964 movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. It shows anything can and will happen at #17 Cherry Hill Lane. The Broadway version opened on November 16, 2006, ran for 2619 performances and closed on March 3, 2013. It was nominated for seven Tony Awards including Best Musical and 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" and the audience continues to follow Mary's exploits throughout all of London as she charms each person that she comes in contact with back in 1910 in London. Director/choreographer Kevin Hill outdoes himself with this musical extravaganza with expert musical direction by Milton Granger. The talent of the 25 member cast plus the special flying effects ZFX capture the hearts of the audience, inducing them to leap to their feet at the curtain call. Bravo on a job extremely well done!

Kevin obtains high quality performances from his talented cast. He blends the comic and dramatic moments together marvelously especially poignant is the scene where the children give their father the money. There's not a dry eye in the theatre after that. Kevin's dance numbers sparkle and shine during the whole show. The most impressive dances are the tap dance for "Step in Time", the toy dance for "Playing the Game" and the dancing statue with the "Jolly Holiday" dancers. Milton taught the vocalists the tongue twisting lyrics and gorgeous melodies and harmonies. He also conducts a terrific eleven piece orchestra and the harmonic blend between cast and orchestra is practically perfect in every way. Leading this huge cast is Kerry Conte who I reviewed last year as Eliza in "My Fair Lady" at Theatre by the Sea. She is a gorgeous, statuesque brunette who embodies this part so brilliantly, you'd swear it was written for her and she captivates every audience member at the same time. Kerry's glorious crystal clear soprano soars in "Practically Perfect", "Spoon Full of Sugar", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", "Feed the Birds" and "Anything Can Happen". Her acting and dancing are as splendid as her vocal prowess and her interactions with the other performers is astonishing, too. Kerry is phenomenal in this role and her flying over the theatre is astounding, too. Brad Bradley, who I last reviewed as Igor in "Young Frankenstein" last year at Theatre by the Sea, also shines as Bert, the chimney sweep. He narrates the beginning of the show with "Chim Chim Cheree" and later on it turns into a show stopping dance number. It's also a duet between Bert and Mary. Brad displays his terrific tenor voice in "Jolly Holiday", "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "Step in Time'' which is a show stopping tap number. His climbing up a wall and on top of it and down the other side during it is breathtaking, too. Brad and Kerry are the perfect leads in this sensational Disney musical extravaganza.

The supporting performers do a splendid job with their roles, too. James Andrew Walsh plays the father excellently. He displays his strong voice in "Cherry Tree Lane" with the family and in his two solos, "A Man Has His Dreams" when he realizes he has changed from being an idealistic youth and in "Good for Nothing" when he is depressed after being let go from the bank. James makes the transition from strict martinet into a more loving and caring father by the end of the show with Mary's magic touch especially poignant is when he hugs the children after they give him their money. He is hilarious in the bank scene when he sings "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" to them. Molly Garner shines as Mrs. Banks. She displays her powerful voice in "Being Mrs. Banks" when she thinks she's let her husband and children down and again in "Anything Can Happen" when she decides to follow her heart and defend her husband. The two children are played excellently by pretty red head, 12 year old Scarlet Keene-Connole as Jane and cute brown haired, eight year old Jake Ryan Flynn as Michael and they excel in these roles. Their acting is impeccable and their fabulous voices are heard in "Perfect Nanny", "Practically Perfect", "Jolly Holiday", "Spoonful of Sugar", "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "Step in Time." They also dance up a storm with the adults. Scarlet and Jake are onstage almost the whole time and remain in character all night long. Jake's final line as Michael, "I love you, Mary Poppins" is heart breaking, making you choke up and cry with his expert delivery of it. Watch out world the two youngsters are headed for stardom in the future!

The villainess in this show is Miss Andrews wonderfully played by Janelle Robinson. She is hilarious as this malevolent woman who rejects Mary Poppins spoonful of sugar to her own elixir "Brimstone and Treacle" with castor oil. Miss Andrews is a tyrant and a nightmare of a nanny who frightened Mr. Banks as a child. Her voice soars up to a high B in her song. Janelle and Kerry reprise it when Mary Poppins finally banishes her from Jane and Michael's lives forever. Her comical performance as this harridan is a hoot. Janelle also plays the kindly Mrs. Corry who runs a candy store in Act 1. This is where the show stopping dance to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" is performed with perfect precision from one and all. Ellen Peterson tugs on your heartstrings as the Bird Woman who sings the poignant "Feed the Birds" with Mary Poppins. The Bird Lady teaches Michael how to be kind to other people. Ellen displays her comic prowess also as the long suffering household cook, Mrs. Brill. Her caustic one liners are fabulous and win many laughs. Brian Padgett is terrific and hilarious as the pratfalling butler especially funny is when the set falls apart and he is knocked unconscious. Both his and Ellen's antics as this arguing duo are priceless. Al Budonis shows his versatility as he plays both the crusty Bank Chairman and Admiral Bloom who always keeps an eye on the weather. He is a hoot in both his roles. Kudos to the entire cast and crew on the magnificent job they do with their singing and dancing prowess on this enormous heartwarming musical. So for a marvelous and magical rendition of this awesome Disney musical, be sure to catch "Mary Poppins" before she flies out of Beverly for good. Run do not walk to the box office before the show is completely sold out. Tell them Tony sent you.

MARY POPPINS (12 to 31 July)
North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA
1(978)232-7200 or

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