Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars

Mary Poppins will only be in town until Christmas Eve, so buy your tickets now!

By: Dec. 14, 2022
Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
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Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
Olivia Hernandez as Mary Poppins
Suddenly Appears Much to Everyone's Surprise!
Photography by John Burrows

When one thinks of the holiday season, many imagine "The Nutcracker" or "A Christmas Carol". These productions are grand and traditional for many reasons, but let me tell you: MARY POPPINS and the Christmas spirit pair very well together! With beautiful stage pictures, technical spectacle, stunning ensemble talent, and heart-warming themes, this show invigorates all who watch it. Additionally, the main lesson taught in MARY POPPINS aligns perfectly with the month of December: although work and money are important in today's world, the most parts of life are the people we spend it with and the time we have with them.


Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
Olivia Hernandez as Mary Poppins, Matt Loehr as Bert,
and the Ensemble of MARY POPPINS
Finishes Off "Step In Time" with Gusto!
Photography by John Burrows

The MARY POPPINS stage was truly overflowing with talent. Olivia Hernandez as Mary Poppins and Matt Loehr as Bert did incredible jobs of taking on their iconic characters yet still making them their own. Hernandez's line delivery, smooth singing, and all-knowing smirks made Mary Poppins come to life, and triple-threat Loehr always brought out the mischief and hilarity in the lovingly ridiculous Bert.

Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
Courtney Markowitz as Winnifred Banks Sings Her Heart Out
Photography by John Burrows

I was also blown away by the vocal strength and character truth that Courtney Markowitz brought to Winnifred Banks. Winnifred Banks is a character that could easily blend into the background since she is the stereotype of a kind and doting mother and wife. However, Markowitz showed so much dignity, self-realization, and character growth in Winnifred, causing everyone to root for her throughout the show. Additionally, her vocal performance of Good for Nothing, Being Mrs. Banks brought me to tears. Winnifred was my favorite character, mostly due to the stunning portrayal done by Markowitz.

Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
Susan Koozin as Miss Andrew Terrifies the Banks
Photography by John Burrows

Furthermore, Susan Koozin (who played a Queen Victoria statue, the Bird Woman, and Miss Andrew, the nanny who tries to replace Mary Poppins) plays her plethora of characters so well. Having recently reviewed Lend Me a Soprano at The Alley Theatre and The Secret of My Success with TUTS, I have watched Koozin in many of her most recent Houston credits, and she is a joy to watch onstage every time. Her vocal control is well-executed, and she is always playing the characters to the full extent, whether they are an over-the-top family friend, an adoring mother, or a wicked nanny.

Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
Abbilyse Caudle as Jane, Daniel Karash as Michael,
and Olivia Hernandez as Mary Poppins
Clean Up the Kitchen with Ease
Photography by John Burrows

Last but certainly not least, I want to give my compliments to the cast of young performers. Abbilyse Caudle as Jane and Daniel Karash as Michael were "practically perfect in every way"; their vocal talents were well-developed, and they played off each other and the rest of the cast like grown-up professional actors! Additionally, Caudle tap-danced and hit every single beat in "Step in Time", and I was amazed by how much of a triple threat she is! Moreover, there were numerous other young performers involved in the ensemble, showing their incredible abilities in singing, dancing, and acting. The added element of youth was essential for the storytelling, and it showcased such companionship, teamwork, and energy.

I have to tip my hat to Jessica Hartman, the show's choreographer. This show was brought to life with its dance numbers, especially "Jolly Holiday", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", and (of course) "Step in Time".

Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
Olivia Hernandez as Mary Poppins, Matt Loehr as Bert,
and the Ensemble of MARY POPPINS
Dance With Delight During "Jolly Holiday"
Photography by John Burrows

The ensemble cast showed their ability to perform all different styles of dance as well as goofy and ecstatic facial expressions at the same time. I particularly enjoyed the short reprises of certain songs that included showcases of the strongest dancers in rapid dance moves that were almost too fast and clean for me to keep track of! I was thoroughly impressed with the work of Hartman and the dance ensemble.

Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
The Cast of MARY POPPINS Travels To Unique, Colorful Worlds
During Their Searches for Fun and Adventure...
How Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Photography by John Burrows

I also would like to give my biggest compliments to Colleen Grady, the costume designer, and Timothy R. Mackabee, the scene designer for MARY POPPINS. As for the costumes, I appreciated how Grady stayed true to the known costumes of Mary Poppins and Bert yet added some new and fun elements to the other characters. For example, I could not help but have my eyes drawn to all the uniquely colored boots that all of the ladies had on. Additionally, the dresses and suits of the ensemble in various scenes were simply exquisite and striking, both when they were in 1910 English outfits and when they were in spectacular costumes from another world. Moreover, Mackabee did fabulous work with the set pieces. This show is quite a project to take on as a set designer, with multiple locations having to pop in and off of the stage area seamlessly. I believe this illusion was captivated very well. I exceptionally appreciated the design of the opening scrim, which included a street scene of London, as well as the design of the Banks' home. Everything was so ornate and detailed, and I am still confounded by how the house came on and offstage.

Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
Abbilyse Caudle as Jane, Daniel Karash as Michael,
and Olivia Hernandez as Mary Poppins
Hopeful for the Future
Photography by John Burrows

Finally, one cannot watch this production of MARY POPPINS and fail to note the eye-popping spectacle that happens throughout the show. Seeing a real dog bark, kites fly, large items get taken out of Mary Poppin's bag, the kitchen clean itself, and Mary Poppins float above the audience caused everyone in the audience to gasp and clap in delight again and again. I wish I could go on and on about the technical feats, but I do not want to give them all away...you will just have to go to the show and see them for yourself!

Review: MARY POPPINS Delights All With Its Timeless Tunes and Stunning Spectacle at Theatre Under The Stars
Olivia Hernandez as the Iconic Mary Poppins
Photography by John Burrows

The night of MARY POPPINS was truly the "spoonful of sugar" for me this week. As a student at the University of Houston, I had just about finished a long, tiring week of finals projects and papers when I walked into the Hobby Center for MARY POPPINS. Having not watched the "Mary Poppins" movie or read the corresponding books since I was very, very young, I was not sure what to expect from MARY POPPINS. I was aware of the timeless songs "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", and I of course knew the iconic image of Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. However, I did not remember the actual story. Nevertheless, I am glad that I went into the theatre unaware of what was going to happen because it made the plot twists and displays of grandeur all that much more exciting! When I got home, I immediately put on the original "Mary Poppins" movie in joy. I just did not want the story to end.

MARY POPPINS is nearly running every single day until Christmas Day, including a 2:00 pm performance on Christmas Eve! Tickets start at just $40, and performances are being held at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (800 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002). There is parking attached to the building available for only $15. Buy tickets here now!




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