Review: MARY POPPINS takes flight at Midtown Arts Center

By: Jul. 08, 2016

As many of you might know, it is always a "Jolly Holiday" with Mary. Poppins that is. This Practically Perfect Nanny first burst on the scene in 1934, in the children's books written by P.L. Travers. In 1964, the beloved Disney movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke was released. This is where most of us fell in love with Mary Poppins. Mary was once again transformed in 2004, when she was brought to life on stage in London's West End. While not especially faithful to the movie, the show morphs into a crafty Broadway musical. As with many Disney adaptations, new songs have been added, and you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the iconic Sherman Brothers tunes and those penned by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. They fit flawlessly, and the up-tempo "Anything Can Happen" is as good as anything from the film.

For those living under a rock for the last 60 years, the story is as follows. Blown in by the wind to London, Mary Poppins (Colleen Johnson) arrives to help the Banks family where life is in chaos. The children Jane (Haley Bart/Rylee Vogel (alternate at select performances)) and Michael (Lucas Moir/Eli Brandt (alternate at select performances)) are running amok, mother Winifred (Lisa Kay Carter) is ignored and purposeless and father George (John Sosna) is too wrapped up in his work to pay any attention to his family. With good advice, a spoonful of sugar and more than a sprinkling of magic, she'll help them find their way, assisted by Bert (Vince Wingerter) the local chimney street/pavement painter/whatever he feels like that day.

Midtown's production, directed and choreographed by Michael Lasris, is a truly magical experience. From start to finish there was not a weak link. Johnson's performance of Mary was delightful and her counterpart Wingerter as Bert, was jubilant and loveable. Not to be outshone, the Jane and Michael at this performance, Haley Bart and Lucas Moir, were extremely enjoyable and nuanced beyond their years. But the true standout was Sosna's Mr. Banks. For a character that is written to be unlikable for a majority of the show, Sosna brought an honesty and humanity that I was not expecting, making the character much more appealing.

Another standout was Lasris' choreography. Whether it was an extensive tap number with chimney sweeps, a brilliant walk in the park with statues (danced exquisitely by Benjamin Roeling) or a simple ballroom dance to cover up a scene change, the choreography was thoroughly entertaining and amusing. Also worth mentioning were Linda Morken and Kathleen Kovarik's costumes. They were refreshing, but still had a bit of nostalgia for fans of the movie. Mary's red coat, anyone?

The nostalgia is real, with songs like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Let's Go Fly a Kite and mine and Walt's personal favorite Feed the Birds. Special shout out to Jalyn Courtenay Webb whose performance definitely had the most range, first bringing me to tears as the Bird Woman and then terrifying me as Miss Andrews, Mr. Banks former nanny.

You honestly do not want to miss this show, which is fun for the whole family. Mary Poppins runs at Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins now through August 28th. Tickets are available at, by calling (970)225-2555 or e-mailing Box office hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm.

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