Thursday, 18 August 2011

Mary Poppins

The stage musical adapted from the books of P L Travers and the 1964 Disney film.

A nanny, with seemingly magical powers, takes on the care of two unruly children in Victorian London and for good measure provides an education for their uptight father and their unappreciated mother.

This sugar sweet theatrical offering probably won't appeal to those who would rather compete in ten marathons back to back than spend three hours attending a musical but the chief attractions of this production for musical lovers would be it's visual delights, the uniformly strong performances from the entire ensemble and the technically advanced, albeit vulnerable, staging.

Visually the production is vivid and varied; almost psychedelic in it's richness.

The ensemble is excellent throughout with highlights including a beautifully choreographed Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in Act 1 and the Chimney Sweeps dance in Act 2 during which Matt Lee tap dances across the stage, then up the entire height of a side wall and finally for added degree of difficulty upside down from the ceiling.

However, it is the technical staging which is both a strength and weakness. Much of the set comprises a house that opens and closes like a giant storybook. The changes occur beautifully when they work but the evidence is that the set is prone to regular breakdowns. Cs attended a performance two weeks ago when the set became stuck resulting in a twenty minute delay and then a short time later complete abandonment of the performance when the set again stuck less than forty minutes into the show. I accompanied Cs to tonight's performance and all was going well for an hour when once again the set failed. Luckily this time, the delay was less than ten minutes and the when the show resumed it continued without noticeable incident through to completion.

A fine show for musical lovers; just keep your fingers crossed that the set doesn't fail.


  1. When we were recently shown around the backstage of Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne by the manager, the theatre was between performances, hence it being open for tours. Mary Poppins had recently finished. Cameron Macintosh had visited the theatre and said 'Mary must fly up there', and pointed to a spot on the ceiling above the audience. So cables were moved, air conditioning ducts were moved and Mary did indeed fly through the ceiling precisely where he pointed. Would that be the final scene when Mary departs when the wind changes? All this relies heavily on mechanics, rather than electronic technology. Mechanics are very unreliable. But even so, you would not think it was too hard to get right.

  2. Andrew - she did indeed fly over the audience in the final scene and this went off without a hitch. The problem with all three stoppages seems to have occurred with the movable house. It opens and closes like those children's pop up books and it seems it only needs to be slightly out of alignment and the set jams. That, or perhaps the computer program controlling the set changes shuts down.