BWW Review: Whimsical and Winsome, Virginia Repertory Theatre's Production of MARY POPPINS is a Holiday Best Bet for Families
Everyone's favorite Nanny has landed, with "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" magic in tow, at Virginia Repertory Theatre. Based on the 1934 P.L. Travers series and subsequent Disney film, the Tony-nominated MARY POPPINS has been extended through January 7 at the November Theatre due to popular demand.
Michael and Jane Banks (Jack Hensley and Anya Rothman) have turned away every nanny that their parents, George and Winifred Banks (John Moon and Andrea Rivette) have brought into the Banks household. The children take it upon themselves to place a newspaper ad for a new nanny. When Mary Poppins (Stacey Cabaj) arrives on the scene, she brings with her, magic and valuable lessons for all. While there may be kite flying, dancing and "chim chim cheree-ing" going on, this nanny means serious business.
Under the very capable hands of Director Chase Kniffen, and with the help of some convincing stage magic from Todd Schall-Vess, the Disney classic comes to life on the November stage. John Winn's top-shelf orchestra is one of several highlights of the production. Lisa Rumbauskas' choreography interweaves ballet, jazz and tap, but feels congested at times. The crowd-pleasing, toe-tapping "Step in Time" is exceptional and another highlight. Brian Prather's many large set pieces float in and roll on with ease, and are complemented by his clever and thematic false prosceniums. Costumes by Sue Griffin and Jeanne Nugent are imaginative and colorful, and add to the whimsy of production numbers like "Playing the Game" and the nostalgic "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Raymond Dimaano's makeup design is masterful.
The hardworking ensemble is to be credited for much of the success for this entertaining production. The talented, triple-threat performers bring parks, statues, banks and rooftops to life. Derrick Jaques is hilarious as the campy Mrs. Corry and life-sized Valentine.
Luke Bernier is amusing as the bumbling butler. Debra Wagoner is hysterical and shows off her powerful range as Miss Andrew. Robyn O'Neill's "Feed the Birds" is affecting.
John Moon is well-cast, but is often overshadowed by Andrea Rivette, who shines as Winifred Banks. "Being Mrs. Banks" is an audience favorite. As stern as she is sweet,
Stacey Cabaj is perfect as the iconic nanny; but it's Morgan Reynolds' Bert who brings an energy that never lets up. His accent is also pitch-perfect.
MARY POPPINS is a festive treat and a sure bet for families looking for live entertainment this holiday season.