Quote of the Day: Anything is possible if you get out of your own way. Mary Poppins, who’s practically perfect in every way.
What a delightful performance for my first visit to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre for press night. I have been there in the past, but this was my first time as a reviewer. They treated us grand! Our tablemates were friendly, the food good, and the performance was magical. Mary Poppins is an illusionist! At least, with the help of Jared Sherlock who shared his expertise in the craft with Mary and the production team. Just like the magic carpet bag in the movie, Mary pulls out a lamp and large plant. She measures them up, verifying that she is indeed “Practically perfect in every way.” The stage version adds a song about it, and it’s the one that stuck in my head! They do most of our favorites from the movie, A Spoonful of Sugar, Chim Chim Cher-ee, Jolly Holiday, and the fantastic dance number Step in Time. You should see what they did with Supercalifragilisticexpialidoscious! They can spell it with their bodies. I still have to look it up to type this post! (Did I get it right? I still have that squiggly red line under the word!) They change some of the songs for the stage version, and cut a few. I missed I Love to Laugh, but you can’t do everything on the stage that you can in the movies. Mary, Uncle Albert, and the children do not elevate to the gallows. Still, the stage show is so alive and vibrant, with the amazing costumes, live music, adorable children, animated adults, and divine singing. And, the dancing! I’m breathless just thinking about it. They were gorgeous and energetic. Their movements dazzled the audience. And, Mark King, who plays Bert is the most talented of them all. Don’t worry about missing Dick Van Dyke, you’ll have Mark King who brings Bert to life with grace and style. I felt his love for Mary and the children, and his delight in being a Jack of all trades in a world of chalk drawings and chimney sweeps. Well done.
Then, there’s Mary Poppins herself. Of course, there is only one Julie Andrews, and there is the one and only Ann Michels. And, yes, she is practically perfect in every way. I read the book by P.L. Travers, and found that Mary portrays herself as stern and serious, but the reality is the fantasy that she creates for the children. She makes taking your medicine a surprise and cleaning your room a game. Laughter provides levity, literally, and imagination can take you anywhere. Wouldn’t it have been fun to have her slide up your banister when you were a child! An additional scene taken from the book includes Mrs. Corry, her extra large daughters, sweet treats, and pasting stars on the night sky. Loved the ladders as props and set and the vision of climbing to the stars.
Additional enchanting characters are The Bird Woman and Miss Andrew. Does anyone else feel a special softness for the Bird Woman as she calls out, Feed the Birds? In other words, take care of those around you. That scene charms me every time. Her polar opposite is Miss Andrew who does not appear in either the book or the film, is a force in the stage show. Her operatic scale from top to bottom literally sends Jane, Michael, and their father to their knees. She put the fear, and excitement, in all of us.
The Chanhassen is a dinner theatre, so bring a group of friends or family if you go. It’s more comfortable to sit close and cozy with familiar folks. Although, you could see it as an opportunity to meet new people. If your chair is turned away from the stage, don’t be shy about turning it around so you don’t get a crick in your neck or a torque in your back that would distract you from the wonderful performance. The show ran late. We got out of there around 11:00 p.m., so I’d recommend bringing younger children to the matinees. (The show is intended for audience members age 5 and over.)
Mary Poppins is playing at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre through August 29, 2015. I expect the house to be full for every performance. This is a family friendly show with family friendly food and magic for all to experience. Just see where your imagination can take you!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What is your favorite song from Mary Poppins? Have you read the book? Do you know any magic tricks?