There’s Something About Mary Poppins
- Nick Gibbs
Full of enthusiasm following the company’s previous performances of Grease and Sister Act 2, my week preceding the show was one of finding myself unconsciously singing along to all the Mary Poppins classics. For a story so well known and loved it didn’t really matter what your Spanish language skills to enjoy the Director’s take on the Hollywood musical that he had, for the first time, scored and scripted entirely in Spanish – a diversion from the previous shows which were sung in English but scripted in Castellano.
The show was again staged at Can Ventosa which is a great auditorium with good views from all but the last few seats at the side of the stalls. We usually head for the circle. Couple of top tips; unusually their theatre seating is unallocated, first come first served so if in a large group go early to ensure you can sit together. Also there is no bar, popcorn, ice cream or any other vending, so if you can’t enjoy a show without a nibble be sure to take along some provisions.
The lights go down and as the curtain opens right on cue our now relatively show-savvy 4 year old’s jaw drops in that awe and wonder that the theatre affords. I do not want to get too gushing about it but any enjoyment I get is quadrupled by the joy of a child. They buy into the make believe with an innocence uninhibited by our adult reserve which has them dancing when dancing is required, guffawing at the most elementary slapstick, and clapping along at every opportunity.
The show started with a clever blackout dance piece using ultra violet lights and Mary’s umbrella motif. A sign of the company’s new choreographer and the first indication that there was something about this Mary Poppins.
2 moans out of the way quickly. First I thought Mary’s entrance, enter stage left, a little uninspiring. Appreciated a full blown flying from the back of the auditorium may be beyond the resources of a small company, but for such a creative group I would have thought something a bit more in keeping with Mary’s magic could have been contrived.
Second, and nothing to do with the show, damn cellphones. Seriously, at the theatre, is nowhere sacred and have these people no shame? Once the first flash went off it seemed to be the catalyst for many others to put their phones in the air. I found it very distracting. The theatre need to police this. I feel sure a bit of public humiliation for the first perpetrator would stop it in it’s tracks.
From there on it’s just bravo! all the way.
Those who sing can sing really well, especially Mary herself who’s voice had operatic qualities, and the young Miss Banks, a born thespian if ever there was one—as natural on the stage as the boards on which she tread.
Those who danced did so with professional grace and sync. I feel sure many of the mums in the theatre gained some additional pleasure from the two disturbingly fit male dancers in the troupe prancing around with an effortless energy that would have left most dads abandoning the standard response of suck-in-your-stomach in as entirely pointless.
We were treated to all of the big songs and the whole production was aided by clever set design including digital backdrops and some excellent live musical accompaniment—and particularly sound effects by a very talented percussionist.
Of course the Spanish humour was typically unfathomable, the English cup of tea seeming to provide endless laughs (it was also used in Sister Act) with such hilarity as “I like lemon in my tea, John Lemon!” audience in hysterics but that’s fine, I always find it funny that they find it funny, so we’re all laughing along happily together.
Finally I have to reserve some individual commendation of the very talented Karen Killeen who plays the Banks’ family maid. In Karen’s first appearance she has the children in stitches with her perfectly timed jumps out of her chair as Mr Banks bangs his fist on the table whilst she is writing the wanted ad for a nanny. Later she steals the show with a routine that starts with a bit of Marylyn Monroe then going into what could be described as ethnic twerking dance psychosis. The scene culminates in a ’splits’ that was as impressive as it was wince-inducing—ouch!.
The something about Mary Poppins was a definite step up in professionalism in all aspects of the show. Both our previous visits were very enjoyable, an excellent level of am dram, but director Joaquin Garli deserves great credit for staging a show where everything from casting to choreography to staging to sound came together to make a great production.
By way of footnote, as we were walking from the theatre our son is jumping, with feet together, down the street. “I wish I could jump into pictures” he says. And that is the magic of the theatre.
Next up is the very popular Christmas Disney show—look out for tickets as they sell out very fast.