BWW Review: Merced's MARY POPPINS Makes the Sun Shine Bright

BWW Review: Merced's MARY POPPINS Makes the Sun Shine Bright

One word describes Playhouse Merced's production of "Mary Poppins," and it isn't supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Rather, in a version of the Disney classic that refuses to take itself too seriously, the word of the day is fun. Pure fun. Merced has its share of mishaps. Mary does not fly and Bert does not walk on the ceiling, so it's not a show that will make audiences ooh and aah. But a new and original staging puts a smile on the face and leaves behind a happy feeling. This "Mary Poppins" does what live theatre is supposed to do.

Park flowers come to life and children walk around like penguins, all because Mary Poppins has arrived to help the Banks family. Jenni Samuelson's well-founded Mary has a motherly smile that warms when her charges learn their lessons. As the Banks children, Michael and Jane, Spencer Brown and Miori Kennedy remain wholly engaged throughout the musical. They watch with enchantment as chimney sweep, Bert (the spirited Colton Dennis), and friends tap dance their way to each "Step in Time." Choreographer Deborah Fauerbach utilizes the cast's strengths to provide a simple, yet impressive number executed with excellence. Audiences may never guess that some of the ensemble had never tapped before doing this show, but the cast's contagious joy shines, even during difficult vocal harmonies.

In addition to new songs, classics like "Spoonful of Sugar," "Feed the Birds" and more highlight Marit Medefind as Winifred Banks, Ronald Daily as George Banks, and Alicia Bohlke as the Bird Woman. Natalie Woodfield leads this group of supporting characters with her excited and eager Mrs. Corry, the head of a "talking shop." The best of the show's costume designs appear here, using holiday colors and gingerbread shapes as inspiration. "Supercalifragilistic" is also one of several places that Director Rob Hypes surprises with a delightful use of colorful, young cast members. If audiences want to talk color, however, they need look no further than Corey Strauss' endearing house on Cherry Tree Lane. Acting as a sort of dollhouse in the way it folds and unfolds, this picturesque design could come straight from a Disneyland park ride. It holds together a thoroughly enjoyable production.

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MARY POPPINS
Playhouse Merced
Through Dec 13
http://www.playhousemerced.com/

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