It. Is. Magical.
Tuesday’s nearly sold-out performance, sponsored by PNC Bank, started almost 15 minutes late, but once the curtain rose, the anxious audience settled in for a colorfully explosive adventure.
The differences between the musical and the movie you grew up with are significant, including some favorite songs that have been adapted, several new songs that have been added, and some plot points that just weren’t there before.
Missing from the musical were the songs, I Love to Laugh and The Life I Lead, as well as the suffragette slant of Mrs. Banks’ character.
Replacing those components was a high-intensity and vibrant backstory on the origin of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which included some incredible choreography, and an interesting outlook on what life is like as the Banks children’s toys.
Added to the production were seven new songs, including the formulaic soulful ballad that has come to be expected in the musical genre. Though performed beautifully by Elizabeth Broadhurst (Mrs. Banks), it was unnecessary and did not advance the plot.
Normally, this would not be an issue, but in a play aimed toward youngsters (as well as the young at heart) with a running time of over two and one-half hours, it could have easily been sacrificed for the good of the whole production.
None of these changes, however, is drastic enough to detract from the feel-good story of the Banks Family and their practically perfect nanny.
While older fans will no doubt hear the voices of Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in their heads, their musical counterparts are talented in their own right.
Rachel Wallace has captured the pure essence of Mary Poppins, and is herself, practically perfect in every way. Bert (Case Dillard) is a joy to watch, though the intensity of his character seems to ebb and flow. Tregoney Shepherd is hilarious and powerful as housekeeper Mrs. Brill.
Disney does what Disney does better than anyone else, and this production is no exception. It is a masterful example of spectacle; the lighting effects by Natasha Katz are extraordinary, and heightened the exceptional set design (Bob Crowley) that kept the audience gaping like codfish at each new scene.
While the show is spectacular, getting to the Kentucky Center this week will be less than. With the NCAA tournament in town and several other major events happening, expect traffic delays and congestion as you make your way to the theatre.
Mary Poppins runs through March 18 at the Kentucky Center. A limited number of tickets remain for performances, and start at $32.75. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 502-584-7777.
Image: Courtesy Broadway Across America