Thursday, April 4, 2013

Disney Finds Magic through a Nanny! - A Review of Mary Poppins

*Photo courtesy of Mary Poppins.

Disney has continued to strike the magical pot of gold.

Mary Poppins opened at Atlanta's famous (and fabulous) Fox Theatre Tuesday night to a packed house and ended it's opening night with a standing ovation.

This was the second time I have seen the play, and the first time my boys (ages 16 and 13) have seen it.  My 16-year old is a consummate Disney enthusiast, so I could hear him singing along to all the big Disney hits ("Supercalifragilistic," "Jolly Holiday"), until I looked at him and smiled (when he again went teenager icy cold), and my 13-year old smiled only occasionally (I'm sure he would rather have been home playing Xbox with his on-line friends).  (For what it's worth, my 13-year old has written his own [albeit, SHORT] review on his own website, "Teen Disney.")

The play has had a few minor tweaks and changes since it's visit here last year, most notably - Mary no longer flies to the second balcony.  At the end of the play this year, she flies from stage left (ours) to stage right against a dark, starry background.  In fact, I thought I would be disappointed but loved it just as much, if not more.

The play is pretty long - much longer than a normal Broadway production - almost three hours.  The intermission does not come at the normal one-hour into the show, so have your little ones prepared before it begins.

Also, if you are a fan of Disney's hit movie musical, be prepared that this play strays a good bit from the movie.  Some scenes simply cannot be replicated (such as the cartoon carousel or the sidewalk chalk paintings) and thus, new ones have been added.

I will be honest and tell you - I have never been a fan of the new scenes.  I think the singing statues are are strange, and I think the "toys come alive" scene is creepy.  This is just my opinion though.  I am a staunch Disney fan, and I like things to remain true to history.  (This is an official Disney production, so I can't really complain much as they themselves made these changes.)

What makes up for these added new songs and scenes, for me, is hearing the Sherman brothers' famous songs and seeing Mary in all her different attires that we have come to know and love.  (At one point, and Disney fans will be able to relate to this, Mary puts on her famous red coat and joins Bert up on the Banks' rooftop.  My boys and I immediately smiled at each other and said, "That's the scene from the Great Movie Ride!")

There is no doubt this musical production is a treat for all ages.  Children will still be amazed at all the Disney magic sprinkled throughout the show.  I heard plenty of, "How did they do that?!" remarks from children throughout the theater, and those that are familiar with the movie will relish in the musical numbers they are familiar with.

Here is a clip of, "Supercalifragilistic" -- one of the new, added dance numbers that, quite frankly, is AMAZING.  This is not the cast from the Fox Theatre's production - it's the Broadway crew:

One last thing, I always like to mention a few of the cast members when I post my reviews, and I won't remiss this time.  Here were a few of my favorites, although I am sure I am leaving out some gems!

  • Chris Hoch (a.k.a., George Banks) - Mr. Hoch does a wonderful rendition of Mr. Banks.  Played the part, I feel, to perfection.  Mr. Hoch's credits include La Cage and Beauty and the Beast.

  • Karen Murphy (a.k.a., Bird Woman) - Wow.  What can one say?  Don't let Karen's small time on the stage pass you by.  She gives a wonderful performance as the woman in rags.  Karen's previous plays include Titanic and A Christmas Carol.

  • Tonya Thompson (a.k.a., Queen Victoria) -  I would be remiss if I left Ms. Thompson out.  What a wonderful performance!  Such a great performer.

  • Jordan Grubb (a.k.a., Valentine) - Love this character!  Really adds a spark of fun to the play!

Mary Poppins plays The Fox Theatre through this weekend.  Visit The Fox Theatre's website for more information.

Take the kids and go.  (How can you not after watching, "Step in Time," from above?)

It's not often we get a kids' musical in town and a Disney one at that!

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