Mary Poppins at Prince Edward Theatre
Mary Poppins has been a firm family favourite for years but would its latest outing to the West End leave a taste as sweet as her infamous ‘Spoonful of Sugar?’
Based on the movie, Mary Poppins tells of the Banks family, who keep on loosing their nanny due to the tricks played on her by the children, Michael and Jane. Mary Poppins arrives and is the answer to many of the Banks’ family problems and fills their days with adventurers that are out of this world.
Mary Poppins is magical story in itself and this production manages to up the magical factor. The technical side of the show is simply wonderful; the Banks home opens out like a dolls house and it contrasts wonderfully with the looming Bank and the costume design by Bob Crowley explodes with colour in some scenes. The magic doesn’t just stop there Mary Poppins flies over the audience and Bert taps and sings whilst upside down, the list of magical moments could go on. There were often gasps heard from younger audience members and I can understand why.
Bringing the magical character of Mary Poppins to life was Zizi Strallen. She encapsulated Mary Poppins’ spirit beautifully, strict but with a fun streak and as soon as she sang ‘Practically Perfect,’ the audience knew that we were in safe hands. Her big dance number with Bert, ‘Step In Time,’ was spectacular and Strallen ad Charlie Stemp as Bert danced up a storm.
Stemp as Bert was an absolute delight, he had wonderful chemistry with Strallen and played the part of the lovable cheeky chap with real warmth. His accent convinces as a real cockney which is a joy to this Londoners ears!!
A show like Mary Poppins also provides numerous other character roles. Amy Griffiths as Mrs Banks portrayed a mother running out of options and her number in Act 2, being Mrs Banks helped give some real depth to the character. Petula Clark is the Bird Woman who appears for a fleeting moment with one of the most famous songs in the score but despite her short time on stage she ensures that you remember her. Claire Machin is the Banks’ housekeeper, Mrs Brill and she succeeds in bringing a lot of laughter to the stage.
The choreography in the show is by Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mears and I loved the fusion between their styles. Strallen often appears balletic, like a gliding swan which is the influence of Bourne where as some of the high energy, riotous numbers have Mear’s trademark all over them.
Mary Poppins really succeeds in bringing the magic of theatre to this audience, where the choreography, set and cast work so well together that some may even go as far to say that it was ‘Practically Perfect In Every Way.’
Mary Poppins is currently booking until 7th June 2020. For tickets visit their website.