Arts & Entertainment

MARY POPPINS

I feel it only fair to mention right off the bat that I was raised with Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins. I know every song, every twist, every chalk picture. So while I jumped at the chance to see the highly acclaimed stage musical, I did so with a diehard fan’s reticence. Would they sing my favourite songs? (Some.) Would Burt and Mary still have that Disney-friendly sexual tension? (No, through no fault of Mary’s.) At the end of the day, would this be Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland all over again? The answer, thankfully, is no. While I didn’t love every decision made in this exuberant staging – particularly the complete removal of Winifred’s suffragette cause and the feminist questions it raised – it nonetheless bubbles along with enough pace and warmth to forget these shortcomings and think more generously. They were big shoes to fill after all. The sets are transportive, the costumes vivid and the performances (as a whole) solid if not inspired. Verity Hunt-Ballard’s Poppins is wonderful, capturing much of Andrews’ nuanced balance of magic, love, and good ol’ English stiff upper lip. The same sadly can’t be said of Matt Lee’s Burt, who never really shines with that same twinkle as Van Dyke. When all’s said and done, Mary Poppins is a fun night out. Questionable modern twists aside (I’m not sure Nawlins’ soul cooking had a place in pre-WWI London), the show should get even the hardiest bankers yelling supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with the best of them.

Until Sep 11, Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell St, Haymarket, $132.50-209.50, showbiz.com.au

 

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