BWW Review: MARY POPPINS at Elbe Stage Theater in Hamburg

BWW Review: MARY POPPINS at Elbe Stage Theater in Hamburg

The musical Mary Poppins is currently playing at the Elbe Stage-Theatre in Hamburg. The show is based on the 1934 published novel about the famous nanny, created by Pamela L. Travers. Mary Poppins gained worldwide recognition through the 1964 movie with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. In 1993, Cameron Mackintosh could convince Pamela L. Travers to take her novel to the stage. In comparison to the movie - about which is said that Travers disliked the changes Disney made - the musical adaptation is closer to the novel. Cameron Mackintosh could persuade her to work with the movie songs by The Sherman Brothers, which turned out to be a wise decision. Additional songs written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe during the development process fitted in perfectly. It took further eleven years until the musical premiered in 2004 under the direction of the honoured Richard Eyre at the Prince Edward Theatre in London. After a successful run in London, the Olivier Award winning musical was transferred to Broadway where it played 2.619 performances and was awarded with a Tony. Later on, Mary Poppins played in Vienna and Stuttgart, before the show arrived in Hamburg.

The musical is about the Banks family. Mr. Banks only lives for his job and is unable to show love to his children. It seems that Mrs. Banks accepts her role as a housewife although she obviously doesn`t meet the expectations of her husband. The situation gets worse when Mr. Banks loses his job in a bank because he hasn't granted a loan to a cash-hungry exploiter. Unsurprisingly, the children Jane and Michael suffer from these circumstances. This becomes apparent by their reluctance to accept any new nanny in their life. That changes when Mary Poppins arrives.

At the beginning, the chimney sweeper Bert welcomes the audience. He is the narrator of the story and takes part in it at the same time. Andrea Luca Cotti knows how to play with the audience in a mischievous way. His "Chim Chim Cher - I" is one of the catchy songs of the show which is stuck in your mind for a long time after leaving the theatre. I'd like to highlight his acting and dancing skills. He got me with the tap dance in the showstopper "Schritt für Schritt" (Step in Time). Andrea Luca Cotti will appear next in the revival of CATS later this year at the Raimund Theatre in Vienna.

After a fast introduction of the Banks family and the supporting roles (Miss Lark, Admiral Boom, a Police Officer ...), Mary Poppins appears out of nowhere. She is a self-confident, good looking woman with a determining character and a straight attitude, but full of love for the children. Hannah Leser combines these traits in a "practically perfect" way. She has a clear voice with a classical touch. I was pleased to see how she manages to bring the character Mary Poppins alive and how she pays attention to all the small details. Hannah Leser recently finished her studies and was cast on the spot as Alex in Flashdance. She also gained experience in many school productions like Chicago, Sunday in the Park with George and Phantom of the Opera. I look forward to seeing her in different roles in the near future.

The mother Winifred Banks is another strong character in the story. She gave up a career as an actress in order to fulfil her duties as a housewife. Despite of questioning these duties, she stands up for her husband, and she holds the family together. Julia Lißel presents Mrs. Banks with a warm and clear voice, which she shows best in "Mrs. Banks zu sein" (Being Mrs. Banks). I would have liked to see her on stage as Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde or Antonia in Dr. Schiwago, both roles she recently played.

The head of the family is George Banks, a person who follows his own dictum in the beginning, which is "Korrektheit und Ordnung" (correctness and order), and later on turns into a friendly and loving dad when the burden of his own strict upbringing is gone. His insecurity is shown best in the scenes where he is uncertain on how to react to the "Good-Night" of his children. Livio Cecini convinces with his acting skills throughout the show.

To sum it up: Whose children don't dream about a nanny who can do magical tricks or take them to exciting adventures? And which parents don't wish to have a "Spoon full of sugar" (Mit 'nem Teelöffel Zucker) as a recipe for the right education of their infants? This is why the story is timeless and worked in 1964 as well as today. The scenes are stringed together like small self-contained episodes: the adventures in the park, the cooking in the kitchen, the tap dance of the chimney sweeper on the roof top, the complaining of the toys, etc. Some of them are useful and necessary for the main story, others are "only" showstoppers, but all of them come with catchy songs and a colourful setting.

If you seek an afternoon or evening to let yourself go and someone else take care of your life, then "Mary Poppins" might be a good choice. The musical will play at the Elbe Stage-Theatre in Hamburg until the 18th August 2019 before it will return to its West End home at the Prince Edward Theatre in London. Tickets are available through "https://www.stage-entertainment.de/".

buy tickets


Related Articles

From This Author Helge Arnoldt

It all started with my first show „The Phantom of the Opera“ back in 1990 when I fell in love with musical theatre at the (read more...)

  • BWW Review: DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES at Theater des Westens, Berlin
  • BWW Review: TINA - THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL in Hamburg