Saturday, June 12, 2010

Broward Center: Mary Poppins (4 reviews)

The National Tour of Mary Poppins opened at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on June 9, 2010.
Produced by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, Mary Poppins combines the stories of P.L. Travers and the Academy Award-winning film to create this perfectly magical musical, filled with priceless memories, timeless songs ("Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Let's Go Fly a Kite," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious") and more than just a spoonful of Disney stagecraft.
Richard Eyre directed a cast that included Caroline Sheen, Gavin Lee, Laird Mackintosh, Blythe Wilson, Bryce Baldwin, Kelsey Fowler, Bailey Grey, and Carter Thomas.

John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin'
Some scenes from the books that had been omitted from the film, such as visiting with the talking statue Neleus and the mystical candy store owner Mrs. Corry, have been inserted into the musical. Other moments, such as the "I Love To Laugh" scene with Uncle Albert in the film, have been removed. Purists of the Disney movie may find a few new moments delightful and others only puzzling. The addition of Neleus and the dancing statues in the park is a welcome surprise, and replaces the animated talking/singing animals in the movie beautifully. The addition of a Mrs. Corry the candy store owner, combined with her Jamaican accent and costuming and makeup for that scene that looks like it is out of a Dr. Seuss book feels very out of place. The scene featuring dancing dolls is a bit tedious, and added to the Mrs. Corry scene, bogs down the end of the first act.
The scenic design for Mary Poppins truly is "practically perfect in every way." As the curtain rises, the exterior of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Banks unfolds like a pop-up card to reveal the interior of the house. The kitchen later disastrously falls apart and miraculously puts itself back together.
Gavin Lee (Bert) is effortless in his dancing, smooth in his comedy, and totally and utterly charming. Caroline Sheen is a wonderful Mary Poppins (though be prepared for the character to be a bit more stern than in the movie). Ellen Harvey gives a standout performance as the nanny Mrs. Andrew. This fleshing out of this role is a great change in the musical, and Harvey leaves no stone unturned in exploring the villainesque nature of this character
...the entertaining and energetic choreography to "Step In Time" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" will stay with long after the curtain descends on this Disney classic.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Mary Poppins has come floating to the rescue of South Florida parents desperate to keep their school-liberated offspring occupied...Though ticket prices for Broadway-caliber fare are steeper than admission to most family-friendly shows, the payoff is far greater.
Lee, who originated the musical's Bert in London and on Broadway, is a rubbery charmer who actually seems to spell out the full-length title of Supercal with his body. On Step in Time, he does an upside-down dance -- from the top of the proscenium opening -- without breaking a sweat. ``Dazzling'' is an adjective critics trot out too often, but Lee's work is just that.
Not that he outshines Sheen's Mary. Crisply beautiful and quick with a quip, Sheen is a triple-threat leading lady whose wise Mary is intriguingly mysterious. Bert adores her; soon the Banks family feels the same way. And when Sheen's Mary takes her final leave -- holding her signature umbrella as she floats slowly from the stage -- the audience loudly goes mad for Mary too.
Beau Higgins reviewed for
I had a most difficult time falling asleep last night. It was one of those nights when something kept going over and over in my mind, preventing sleep from happening. As a creature of the theater, I get most excited by a show that gives me goose bumps and keeps me riveted from beginning to end. Disney and Cameron Mackintosh have teamed to bring us a stage version of MARY POPPINS. Last night, MARY POPPINS opened at the Broward Center. It is a "Jolly Holiday" for me to tell you, MARY POPPINS is one of the greatest musicals in years.
Let's answer the number one question right away. The stage musical, MARY POPPINS, is not as good as the movie. It is better. Much, much better.
...when it does indeed near its end and we are tricked and fooled by the stage magicians, we are finally paid off with what we came to believe was not going to happen. She does it. Mary Poppins, umbrella in tow, flies from the stage of the Broward Center, over the audience, to somewhere in the third or forth balcony. The fact that it was attempted is excellent. The fact that it is achieved beyond anyone's wildest dream is probably thanks to the combined talents of the folks at Disney and those at Cameron Mackintosh's office. Mary Poppins flying near the end of the show last night is something I will never forget. And do not dare think it was a cheap theatrical trick. It was as heartfelt as anything else in this show, and this show has heart...
Fashion editor Rod Stafford Hagwood was sent out by the Sun-Sentinel:
It's hard to remember exactly when Mary Poppins wins you over … or how … exactly.
Resistance is futile. This is Cameron Macintosh. This is Disney.
Yes, it's easy to see why the Sun-Sentinel is going down the toilet.  Writing like this makes me wish it would just hurry up and die, already. us when we say: Mary Poppins soars, she really soars. Thanks in no small part to scenic and costume designer Bob Crowley and choreographer Matthew Bourne, both "Supercalifrag-etc." and "Step in Time" become showstoppers.

But even through the well-practiced precision of a first-rate road tour, it is the two leads that give this Mary Poppins a real radiating glow.

Caroline Sheen reprises her role as the title character from the original United Kingdom tour and she fills out the somewhat personality-deprived nanny with a bell-tone-clear voice. Gavin Lee has played her Jack-of-all-trades pal Bert in both the original West End production in London and the Broadway staging in New York and it shows: The part seems to be imprinted on his DNA.
Mary Poppins plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through June 27, 2010.

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