Mary Poppins not quite as you know her, but still touting her famous flying umbrella and penchant for songs.
Presented by Theatre Bugs & Adelaide Theatre Academy
Reviewed 26 February 2021
The Norwood Concert Hall was packed Friday for the opening night of the iconic Mary Poppins.
With a large cast spanning from small children as statues, dancing toys and other extras, to young adults in the lead roles, Mary Poppins certainly was visually impressive. Backdrops depicting the rooftops of London ala chimney sweep style, the park where chalk drawings come to life and the Banks’ household created a great sense of place and helped to immerse the audience in the London of a century past.
Those in the lead roles of Mary Poppins, Jane and Michael Banks, Burt, and Mr and Mrs Banks are to be congratulated on their talent, professionalism and excellent singing voices. Mary Poppins spoke in a clipped manner with just the right amount of bossiness; Burt the chimney sweep delivered a fab cockney accent and mischievous sense of fun; Mr Banks was suitably uptight and, for my pick, Mrs Banks had the standout singing voice of the show. The children’s characters, however, were snootier than aficionados of the movie would be expecting, perhaps showing greater alignment to the novels upon which the movie is based.
Which leads to this: the Mary Poppins Fringe show is quite different from the movie. I tell you this because my two young children were confused and questioned what was going on. Mrs Banks isn’t a Suffragette, key scenes from the movie are excluded, there are some new songs and many from the movie are AWOL and, as it’s a stage show, it contains far less of the magic effects achievable on-screen. While, ideally, a production should be judged on its own merits, rather than in comparison to an existing piece of art, that’s terribly hard to do when it comes to something as well known as Mary Poppins. Sadly, the stage musical does come in second place as, leaving aside the fact that no-one can compete with Dame Julie Andrews, it simply lacks the magic, both literal and metaphorical, of the movie.
The great bits were that it provided talented kids with a performing opportunity, the costumes were lovely and evoked a time long since passed, and the singing was top notch. Provided your kids (and you parents!) are not too married to the movie version, it’s still an enjoyable show and live Fringe experience.
Reviewed by Samantha Bond
Venue: Norwood Concert Hall
Season: 26-28 February 2021
Duration: 120 minutes
Tickets: $16-25, Family $70
Rating out of 5: 3.5