Quite appropriately, the rain was falling as I made my way into The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire for 'Mary Poppins.' For those unfamiliar with the story, the show's namesake "blows" into the lives of the Banks family - who are desperately seeking a nanny - by umbrella during a storm.
I am very familiar with the 1964 Walt Disney classic film version of the musical, which stars Julie Andrews as Mary and Dick Van Dyke as lovable chimney sweep Burt. I watched it many times growing up and although it had been years since I last saw it, I was surprised at how easily the words of the songs - all enhanced in this stage version by authentic looking costumes and upbeat choreography - came back to me. It took all of my nerve and imagining a tiny, scolding Emily Post on my shoulder to not sing along with the amazingly talented cast.
On the surface, 'Mary Poppins' is nothing short of a magical show and if they can handle the two-and-a-half hour length, young (ish) children will enjoy the music, dancing and theatrics. But look beyond knee-slapping "Step in Time" and past delightfully tongue-twisting "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and you'd be surprised at the underlying life lessons.
As wise-for-her-age Mary Poppins - played practically to perfection by a stunning Summer Naomi Smart - teaches the Banks clan the importance of family, friendship, charity, acceptance, communication and, of course, dreaming, you'll find yourself learning, or re-learning, the meaning of these things, too.
As it was for me when I was younger, the depth of the story will be lost on the little ones but teens and tweens will be able to recognize and hopefully appreciate at least some, if not all, of the messages. It may even open up the lines of communication between you and them for further discussion. Perhaps while flying a kite?
Jackie is the digital content manager at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago with her daughter and husband.
See more of Jackie's stories here.