Zizi Strallen – Mary Poppins
Matt Lee – Bert
Antony Lawrence – George Banks
Rebecca Lock – Winifred Banks
Violet Tucker – Jane Banks
Finley Miller – Michael Banks
Wendy Ferguson – Mrs Brill
Venue: Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016
It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious . . . Would you really be expecting anything else? I thought not, I have to admit that I was extremely excited to eventually get to see Mary Poppins on the stage for the very first time. It is every bit as magical as you would expect and well even more! It certainly pushes theatre boundaries and manages to create a really special atmosphere. The stage was very impressive from the first moment when the house comes out towards the front of the stage and then you just know that it is going to be something very special. I guess when a touring show has to stay for a long period in a theatre you know the staging and effects are going to be something else.
Who doesn’t love Mary Poppins? What a character to take on and Zizi Strallen is truly amazing, from the moment she first appears on stage everything about her performance is magical. With an incredible vocal range and acting performance, she really is practically perfect in every way as the iconic character. Even the tiny little details like the way she stands when on stage and moves about captures everything we know and love about Mary Poppins. She gets to do some rather cool things as well, don’t worry everything you expect to happen does, and well more! The ending was just well wow, so impressive to see in a Theatre!
Matt Lee took on the role of Bert and he acts as well the narrator at the same time as being very involved in the story and plenty of dance routines. He gets some rather cool stunts as well. Another great performance and he really brings across the character as so likeable which was very entertaining to watch, he had that cockney edge and looks to be having the time of his life on stage.
The story is certainly a lot darker than the way the film goes and that is how you can tell this has been based on the book and adapted from that. Don’t worry though as you get so many fantastic moments that you will remember from the film version, but something that is even better is that we get some different songs and even some brand new songs for this production. All of which fit in very nicely and give Mr and Mrs Banks more stage time which is certainly important to the story. George Banks is not painted in a very good light at all, no time for his children and very fixated on his work, not even very nicely spoken towards his devoted wife Winifred either. So Mary Poppins really does have her work cut out especially with Jane and Michael who do not like listening to well anyone at all.
That certainly gives brilliant character development over the course of the show, which has a running time with interval of around 2 hours and 45 minutes. A particular highlight of new songs and moments certainly has to be bringing back George’s old Nanny Miss Andrew with Brimstone and Treacle especially when Mary appears back as it felt like we had crossed over to Wicked with the green and pink lights going on! But a very powerful moment as well.
Rebecca Lock was certainly a standout performer as Winifred and had a great voice, I really did love the moments she got to have her time in the spotlight with a couple of songs and eventually standing up for herself, it was rather inspiring. Mrs Brill was another great character who certainly added the comic relief with the laughs and lighter moments to the show, taking away the serious edges it has.
The two young performers taking on the roles of Jane and Michael were pretty perfect as well. Really putting in great performances, with the singing and delivery of some great lines as well.
I really did love and enjoy how it is adapted for the stage and how it all fits together so nicely. We get a few different types of dance routines as well, including a more ballet style with the statues and then my personal favourite of tap dancing for step in time. It really is a special theatre experience which you should really try to see at some point. I would easily go back and see it again and again. After all a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down and it really is practically perfect in every way! We even get a rather creepy toys moment, which I really wasn’t expecting at all. But it still fits and works well with the points Poppins is trying to make.
So pleased I have eventually had the honour of seeing one of my all time favourite musicals on stage! Oh and I got a few things from the merchandise stand! Another post about that coming soon!!!