Friday, 6 April 2012

Mary Poppins

DIRECTED BY: Richard Eyre
STARRING: Lisa O'Hare, Matt Lee, Simon Burke, Pippa Grandison
RATING: 4.5 stars

With flying, upside-down ceiling dancing and objects being pulled out of a magic bag, Mary Poppins is the perfect example of a musical that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you're an easily distracted child, a tired parent or a hard-to-please grandparent, the Australian production of Mary Poppins is sure to turn even the hardest heart to mush.

Based on the books by Australia's P. L. Travers and the 1964 Walt Disney film, Mary Poppins tells the story of two children and their magical nanny. Mary Poppins (Lisa O'Hare) answers a letter written by Michael and Jane Banks – the children of George (Simon Burke) and Winifred Banks (Pippa Grandison) – who write that they are looking for a kind, pretty and fun nanny. When Mary Poppins takes on the job, she begins working her magic to help the Banks family overcome their problems and learn to be a happy family.

The play stars Lisa O'Hare, who was part of the West End cast, and reprised her role as Mary Poppins for the Perth leg of the tour. O'Hare, who is a fan of Julie Andrews – the original Mary Poppins in the film – was the perfect Mary Poppins with her beautiful voice, quirky mannerisms and facial expressions. The musical also stars So You Think You Can Dance judge and Helpmann Award Winner, Matt Lee, as Bert who perfected the English cockney accent and was very funny. He was able to show off his impeccable dancing skills, as well as his singing voice in the production. The leads were well supported by the children cast as Michael and Jane, and both Burke and Grandison were impressive as the parents.

The set design was colourful and creative, especially with the way the sets changed to show different rooms in the house, to keep the stage looking fresh and interesting. The production also features Academy Award winning songs from the film written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, who died earlier this month aged 86. Songs include memorable classics like Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious, A Spoonful of Sugar, Jolly Holiday and Chim Chim Cher-ee. There are also some original songs for the stage musical that add some fun including Practically Perfect, Precision and Order, and Anything Can Happen. All the songs were preformed well and no one skipped a beat with the dance routines.

There's a reason why Mary Poppins has grossed more than $679 million worldwide and has won 44 major theatre awards. It truly is a fun, magical evening of musical theatre. Mary Poppins is now showing at Burswood Theatre. Tickets through Ticketek.


Lisa O'Hare and Matt Lee in Mary Poppins. Photo courtesy of Disney/CML.

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