"Anything Can Happen" and in this "Mary Poppins," you leave
believing it. The story is based on the beloved tales of P.L.
Travers and the Walt Disney movie, but the version on stage at the
Cadillac Palace Theatre diverges from the familiar storylines. This
Mary Poppins leads the Banks children and the audience through
adventures both familiar and new. Sure the kids meet up with
chimney sweeps on London rooftops, but you'll not find any runaway
carousel horses or dancing penguins in this production.
Truthfully, it took my family (all avid fans of the movie
musical) some time to acclimate to the storyline changes and new
music. In this stage adaptation the plot more consistently centers
on the repair of a broken home. But, just as in the film, Mary
Poppins is the true star of the show. And, in the leading role,
Rachel Wallace is "Practically Perfect." With a powerhouse voice,
graceful dancing and delightfully humorous poise, she keeps the
momentum moving forward and the mood magical.
Likewise, Nicolas Dromard as Bert (cleverly used to narrate and
make scene transitions seamless) is a true triple threat. Likeable
and charming, he can also sing and dances like an old-fashioned
movie star. The second act's "Step in Time" led by Bert and the
chimney sweeps is a show-stopper. I haven't seen a full stage tap
number in quite some time. This one was worth the wait, especially
when Bert taps his way up the stage walls and dances upside
As with most musicals, the ensemble numbers are the highlights.
In addition to "Step in Time" the modern interpretation of
"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" had us dancing in our seats.
The choreography, by Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear, has the
perfect blend of old-style charm and modern movements. Their work
shines in "Jolly Holiday," a radical departure from the movie with
granite statues combining modern dance with traditional ballet.
What really makes this production worth the Cadillac Palace
experience are the astonishing sets. My sons were blown away by the
Banks House, which moves and opens and turns around and lights up.
The house anchors the show and is used to great effect. The
designers have also done a fantastic job of integrating special
effects, including Mary Poppins in flight, so the story still feels
magical, especially to children.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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