Presented by Matt Byrne Media
Reviewed 2 July 2015
Matt Byrne is getting a reputation for bringing fresh, hard to do shows to Adelaide audiences, especially when the interstate companies don’t include us on their itinerary. We are grateful for the chance to see this favourite children’s story, based on the stories of P.L.Travers and the Walt Disney film, but it needs a little more magic: it is a little undercooked.
Lauren Potter is truly magical as Mary Poppins, and she totally does justice to all those loved songs, especially Practically Perfect and A Spoonful of Sugar. Brendan Cooney is everything you would expect in Bert the Chimney Sweep: he is Bert, bright, cheeky and engaging. As the uptight Mr Banks, James McCluskey-Garcia is all precision and order, the head of the household. Ellonye Kemiry is the ideal mouse as his wife, scared of everyone. The rest of the Banks’ house consists of: Mrs Brill, the cook, Penni Hamilton-Smith at her hilarious melodramatic best; Callum Piotr Byrne as Roberson Ay, the servant, is a perfect foil for Mrs Brill.
Youngsters Shalani Wood and Sebatien Skubala who play the Banks children, Jane and Michael, have these parts down pat and demonstrate a level of professionalism beyond their years.
There are fine performances in the rest of the cast; Niki Yiannoullou as Katie Nanna, the nanny the children persecute; Megan Humphries as the nastiest nanny known; Charissa McCluskey-Garcia as Nanny Mayfair the nice one (sort of); Chris Bussey as the “Little Old Bird Lady”; and Russell Ford as a Park Keeper to mention a few.
Then we have Neville Phillis as an Admiral and a Bank Manager, Margaret Davis as Mrs Lark with her very amusing dog and Nathan Quadrio as a cuddly teddy bear (among other things). So the lack of magic is not in the cast, although there are a few slow patches (which will undoubtedly improve).
The set is functional and the rooftop scene is beautiful, but slow scene changes had audience members fidgeting in their seats and losing focus. I saw it on opening night and all the bugs had not been ironed out. I hope they improve this aspect, as it is the only weakness.
The ensemble are marvellous. Gordon Combes, with the aid of his assistant MD, Paul Sinkinson, has drilled them well – the music is a joy. Sue Pole’s choreography is, as always, spit spot. She shows her talent with Jolly Holiday and especially Step in Time. The whole cast get in on the finale and look so much like they are enjoying themselves that you feel that you would like to join in.
So in general Matt Byrne has done it again. The clumsiness of the scene changes will improve and this will be another MBM success. Go see it – the cast are wonderful.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Arts Theatre, Angus Street
Season: 2 July– 18 July at The Arts, then 23 July – 1 Aug 2015 at the Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth
Tickets: Adult $40, Conc. $35, Groups of 10+ (in one transaction) $38/$33 $30 Budget Nights 7, 14 & 23 July