Monday, January 10, 2011

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

As an avid lover of all things Disney, musical, and live performances, I was elated to receive an invitation to attend opening night of Mary Poppins at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh. The show promised to include some of my favorite songs, a great all-star cast, and a few surprises along the way. On Friday evening, my mom and I were swept away in the magic of childhood dreams, the fun that can happen with a bit of a change in perspective, and the beautiful music that rounds out the play.

The Original National Tour Company of MARY POPPINS perform “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” ©Disney/CML. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The story unfolds along with the help of Bert the chimney sweep portrayed by Nicolas Dromard, who did a magnificent job of taking theater goers along on the transformation of the Banks family as they go from “Precision and Order” to happily ever after. Of course this transformation wouldn’t take place without the “Practically Perfect” nanny, Mary Poppins (Caroline Sheen) who with a bit of magic and “A Spoonful of Sugar” introduces the Banks children (Camille Mancuso, Cade Cannon Ball) to their imaginations and their standoffish father (Laird Mackintosh). With classic songs such as “Jolly Holiday,” “Feed the Birds,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” the play moved along quickly and provided many opportunities for clapping and toe tapping. The latter song resulted in a fantastically elaborate choreography number that left me wondering how on each the cast managed the dancing and the fast paced spelling of the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. (Hint: The first things that the actors learn during the rehearsal process are the letters for “Supercal…” Traditionally, they spend several hours per day during the first week to learn the complicated choreography.)

The scenery, backdrop, and special effects for the show are nothing short of breathtaking. The Banks house on Cherry Tree Lane unfolds itself like a huge storybook. Bert’s pictures in the park magically come to life along with dancing statues. The bird woman in the square preforms her solo to a magnificent realistic sunset backdrop with flocks of flying birds. Characters pop through chimneys, walk up the sides of the theater walls and tap dance upside down while suspended in the air. As she is leaving the Banks family for good, Mary Poppins actually flies from the stage, out over the orchestra pit, above the audiences’ heads before soaring into the upper parts of the theater and disappearing into the balcony.

As a former tap dancer, the choreographed “Step in Time” scene was absolutely amazing allowing most in the cast to truly showcase their dancing skills and abilities. The costumes were beautiful, particularly the Starlighters’ costumes which included over 800 hand-sewn crystal stars on each individual costume.

If you are in musical theater lover in the Pittsburgh area, have children, or are a child at heart this play is an absolute must. The show will be showing at the Benedum Center through January 23rd. Or visit MaryPoppins.com for more information about the North American tour and plans that are underway for a Canadian Tour.

Disclaimer:  I was provided tickets for my mom and I to see the show courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Arts. I was not compensated or required to write a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.