The Broadway musical version of the 1964 Disney movie “Mary Poppins” has finally come to Tampa and opened at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
From the beginning, the stage translation stays true to the original story.
Popular songs such as “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” have been beautifully and colorfully adapted. The songs are even more enjoyable since the audience can sing along with the characters.
Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, who appeared in Disney’s adaptation of the film, played important characters. Therefore, the show’s success hinges on the actors cast to fill these two roles.
Caroline Sheen plays the “practically perfect” Mary Poppins, and Gavin Lee is the chimneysweeper, Bert, who is still comical between scenes and keeps up his boyish behaviors. The two provide Jane and Michael Banks with an understanding of what it means to have fun when it seems like there’s nothing to do and also encourage the children to be helpful and kind.
Mary Poppins, the magical nanny who comes to help out the Banks’ household in London during the early 1900s, is tasked to fix the behavior of the Banks’ children, Jane and Michael, in the musical that lasts about 3 hours.
Whether Sheen is magically sliding up the banister to the children’s room or pulling a lamp from her bag, she leads the children into adventurous activities around London and even a parallel sidewalk chalk world full of wonder and colorful settings.
Laird Mackintosh and Blythe Wilson play the parents who are both having difficulties with their roles in society and in the home. Mackintosh provides an engaging song piece describing why he needs “precision and order,” and Wilson sings of her struggles fitting in with the other wives.
The children, parents and even the housemaid and her sidekick all gain from having the positive influence of Mary Poppins and Bert.
The show might run longer than expected, but it’s in a “delightful way.” The finale with the cast singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and spelling it in sign language like the Village People is definitely a treat worth waiting for.
Ultimately, the show is great not only for children, but also for audience members who enjoyed the movie when they were younger. The touring production runs through June 6 at the Straz Center.