BWW Reviews: MARY POPPINS Flies in to Sacramento

July 10
12:19 PM 2014
BWW Reviews: MARY POPPINS Flies in to Sacramento

Sold out for the entirety of its run, Mary Poppins at Sacramento Music Circus steps in time to the beloved Disney musical. Thanks to a vivacious cast and plenty of clever trick costumes and sets, Mary maintains most of her magic.

The "practically perfect" title character enters the home of Jane and Michael Banks, stern, loving and ready to play games (but she chooses them). She and friendly artist and chimney sweeper, Bert, open the children's eyes to a new world of stars, kites, conversations and statues come alive, all the while influencing change in the Bank's household. Winifred Banks struggles to find her role as a mother and wife, longing for her take-charge, efficiency-driven husband, George, to let her and their children into his life. In a refreshing change from the original Julie Andrews film, the new family dynamic gives the musical its heart.

The production features most of the classic songs, from "Spoonful of Sugar" to "Feed the Birds," with new inspirational songs like "Anything Can Happen." Unfortunately, the choreography does not always live up to Music Circus standards. Although "Jolly Holiday" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" include lively and rich movements, the busy dance of "Step in Time" fails to take full advantage of fun roof top pieces in the aisles. The Broadway production saw Bert tap dance upside down on the proscenium, and while no one could expect Music Circus to replicate such a feat in its round space, watching Bert pretend to balance on a board does not quite have the special something needed to give the song its triumphant finish.

There are other small elements to pick on. Mary Poppins flies, but looks awkward doing so. And one costume gone wrong resembles a diaper made of duct tape (but not to the neglect of other flawless, colorful costume designs by Marcy Froehlich). Ultimately, the production provides an enjoyable time, but leaves it up to the actors to provide magic where magic lacks. Robert Creighton adds fantastic personality to Bert, Kelly McCormick makes a "practically perfect" Poppins, Noa Solorio and Ben Ainley-zoll play the two Banks children (Solorio's smile and character highlights throughout), Shannon Warne lends new dimensions and a gorgeous voice to "Being Mrs. Banks," Ruth Gottschall as Miss Andrew spits out high notes like a pro, and David Engel leads the show with his effective and, at times, bubbly George Banks. Scott Klier and Jamie Kumpf also deserve a shout out for creating the lovely scenic world of Cherry Tree Lane.

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MARY POPPINS
California Musical Theatre's Music Circus
Through July 13
http://www.californiamusicaltheatre.com/

Follow Harmony Wheeler's theatre adventures on Instagram and Twitter @HarmonyWheeler.

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