MARY POPPINS (NATIONAL TOUR)
A musical based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney Film.
Original music & lyrics by Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
New songs & additional music by George Stiles & Anthony Drewe
Book by Julian Fellows
Bass Hall, Fort Worth
Music Director - Daniel Bowling
Music Coordinator - David Lai
Orchestrations - William David Brohn
Sound Design - Paul Groothuis
Dance and Vocal Arrangements - George Stiles
Co-Choreographer - Stephen Mear
Lighting Designer - Natasha Katz
Scenic and Costume Designer - Bob Crowley
Co-Direction and Choreography - Matthew Bourne
Director - Richard Eyre
CAST (in order of appearance)
Bert - Case Dillard
George Banks - Michael Dean Morgan
Winifred Banks -Elizabeth Broadhurst
Jane Banks - Marissa Ackerman
Michael Banks - Zach Timson
Katie Nanna - Elizabeth Ann Berg
Policeman - Ben Cherry
Miss Lark - Emily Cramer
Admiral Boom - Ryan Hilliard
Mrs. Brill - Tregoney Shepherd
Robertson Ay - Blake Segal
Mary Poppins - Rachel Wallace
Park Keeper - James Patterson
Neleus - Benn Atkin
Queen Victoria - Tonja Thompson
Bank Chairman - Ryan Hilliard
Miss Smythe - Emily Cramer
Von Hussler - Ben Cherry
Northbrook - Con O'Shea-Creal
Bird Woman - Q. Smith
Mrs. Corry - Tonya Thompson
Valentine - Sean Patrick Doyle
Miss Andrew - Q. Smith
Reviewed Performance 3/28/2012
Reviewed by Laurie Lynn Lindemeier, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Wherever your own personal "Cherry Tree Lane" is, I suggest that you venture to Bass Performance hall to have a "Jolly Holiday," take time to "Feed the Birds," "Fly a Kite," or view "A Shooting Star" before April 8th. This dazzling production of Mary Poppins is so much more than a "Spoonful of Sugar." (Probably a ten-pound sack-at least) In fact, it's, "Practically Perfect."
Ms. Rachel Wallace stars as the flawless nanny who pops in to rescue the troubled Banks family from materialism and misdirected priorities. Her pure soprano voice and simultaneously tender and stern persona charmed the audience--children and adults alike.
The majority of the crowd was adult and yet childlike "oohs and ahs" abounded, proving that the production was quite efficient at bringing out everyone's inner child.
Although I'd spent countless hours viewing the film version with my children, cuddled together on the couch, years ago, I was not the least bit disappointed in the adaptations and new numbers composed by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. They created a stew of delightful music and tottered atop the line of mixing the old with the new just as well as the chimney sweeps balanced on the rooftops in "Chim Chim Cher-ee."
The revised version of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" with the letters spelled out with striking choreography gave our eyes a feast. Blinking was simply not allowed too much would be missed!
Bob Crowley handled scenic design and costumes with wild use of psychedelic colors in the park scene and Mrs. Corry's shop. A young man, who seemed to occasionally feign sleep in the row ahead of me, couldn't help but stare continuously over his shoulder at the mesmerizing multi-colored sets.
Another young lady with blonde locks told me at intermission that she especially liked the dancing gray statues in the park scene. She charmed us later when a "hairloom" vase was broken by loudly exclaiming, "But - can't they just buy a new one?" Everyone broke out in laughter.
In "Step in Time," the tap dancing number, the ashen rooftops, smoldering chimney stacks, and soot-covered sweepers contrasted boldly with Mary Poppins' vivid red dress and the children's scarlet scarves. These visual elements provided a salient spread for our eyeballs while the precision tapping beguiled our eardrums.
Jane Banks as played by Marissa Ackerman and Michael Banks, performed by Zach Timson, were more unruly, and thus, more realistic than the angelic film version children. However, they were nicely responsive to Mary's training and sneakily provided lessons to the audience children on respectfulness and responsibility. These young performers were precise, sweet and lovable, and displayed a variety of emotions not always mastered by young actors.
One masterful performer must be mentioned as my opera background cannot resist pointing out the wickedly amazing glissando performed by Q. Smith as Miss Andrews, the evil nanny. In a single word, "rage," Ms Smith expressed her anger with a treacherously slow climb to a piercing high note and then slithered back down the scale and jig-jagged around before finally ending on an ominous low note. Her operatic technical prowess coupled with musical theater pizzazz caused a torrent of applause and cheering from the appreciative audience. Miss Andrew's costume with a horned black feather hat added a devilish touch. Michael Banks commented, "She looks like something that would eat its young."
One might venture to think that a story set in 1910 and first published in 1934 could end up being out of date and stodgy if not handled well. But the writing of the original tale by P.L. Travers rings true and the timeless lessons of valuing family and honorable behavior over status and material wealth came through with the help of an enticingly glittering production. Disney delivered a family friendly night of entertainment that we've all grown accustomed to from this venue.
The biggest "ah" of the evening came when Mr. Banks, played by Michael Dean Morgan, finally took time to embrace his son and fly a kite with him. The workaholic father gave in to the ache deep inside him and set aside the daily grind for time with his son. Mr. Banks drove the point home when he announced to the bank chairman that he would put his family first from now on.
These themes were not driven in but set out for us to take in and interpret as we wished for our own lives. The theatrical elements of a superb orchestra conducted by Daniel Bowling and the many fine touches by director Anthony Lyn merged to a form a marvelous evening of entertainment.
MARY POPPINS (NATIONAL TOUR)
Bass Performance Hall
4th and Calhoun Streets, Fort Worth, TX 76102
Runs through April 8th
Remaining Dates: Friday, 3/30 at 8:00pm; Saturday 3/31 at 2:00pm & 8:00pm, Sunday 4/1 at 1:00pm and 6:30pm; Tuesday, 4/3 at 7:30pm; Wednesday 4/4 at 7:30pm; Thursday 4/5 at 7:30pm; Friday 4/6 at 2:00 and 8:00pm; Saturday 4/7 at 2:00 and 8:00pm;
and Sunday, 4/8 at 2:00pm.
Tickets prices range: $38.50?$99.00.
For information and tickets, call 817-212-4280