BWW Reviews: A Jolly, and Not-So-Jolly, Holiday with MARY POPPINS
Old familiar tunes like "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Jolly Holiday" and "Let's Go Fly a Kite" harmonize with new tunes penned to bulk out a Broadway musical. The result is the Disney and Cameron Mackintosh version of Mary Poppins making a tour stop at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford through Sept. 23.
Madeline Trumble flies into the title role here (literally) as the mysterious nanny who works her magic on the unruly Banks household in London at the turn of the 20th century. Michael and Jane (Eli Tokash and Julianna Rigoglioso the night I attended) are incorrigible – too much for their insecure mother, Winifred (full-voiced Elizabeth Broadhurst) or busy banker father, George (Michael Dean Morgan) to handle. Mary arrives on the scene with her never-empty bag of magical surprises and when she teams up with chimney-sweep friend Bert (Con O'Shea-Creal), fun ensues.
Costume and lighting effects (Crowley and Natasha Katz, design) that create the realistic-looking park statues deserve kudos, but the choreography that has Neleus (Leeds Hill) and his sculpture friends doing ballet borders on the absurd. The scenes where the statues and dolls come to life have a creepy feel to them in a sharp contrast to the otherwise typical, over-the-top cutsey direction that gives a too-large spoonful of sugar. You can almost imagine a finger inserted in the dimples of the two youngsters as they pose and smile to evoke "awwws" but the dolls are seeking vengeance for the cruel treatment they have received….
MARY POPPINS runs through Sept. 23; (note different times for this run) Tuesday through Saturday 7:30 pm , Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 1:30 and 6:30 pm; Tickets $20-$90, (860) 987-5900 or www.bushnell.org.
Pictured: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Photo by Deen Van Meer.