Spectacular, memorable show is practically perfect in every way
Mary Poppins (in association with the Evening News) ***** Edinburgh Playhouse A PACKED Playhouse gasped in collective awe at the finale of Mary Poppins' opening night, as Caroline Sheen in the title role flew out above them and up into the darkness of the auditorium roof.
It was a fitting culmination to a production which promises the stars and ends up delivering a slice of musical heaven – with the stars thrown in as well.
There can't be many musicals where you hum the tunes on the way to the theatre, but Mary Poppins is definitely one of them. Once heard, the likes of A Spoonful of Sugar, Chim Chim Cher-ee and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious don't go away.
Once seen, the delights of this musical spectacular will linger on too. The basic plot of the Walt Disney film has been added to, with inspiration from the original stories by P.L.Travers.
This makes it a much darker piece of theatre than it was a movie – and one which very young children might find just a little too scary when the mistreated toys in the nursery of Jane and Michael Banks rise up, as large as humans, and take the children to court for their bad tempers.
Set at the turn of the last century, the musical concerns the two troublesome children, Jane and Michael, whose father George (Martin Ball) spends too much time at work at the bank and consigns everything to do with the household and their children to his wife, Winifred (Louise Bowden).
When the magical Mary Poppins arrives she turns boring walks in the park into full-scale adventures, reveals a world in which anything can happen, if you want it to.
Along the way and during their adventures, Mary introduces the children to a whole host of fantastic characters.
Poppins is no easy part to play. Not just in the singing and dancing, but creating a character who is believable and likeable while being teeth-grindingly perfect. Caroline Sheen makes it all seem easy. Meanwhile, Daniel Crossley is almost as good in his role as her best pal, Bert the chimney sweep.
In fact, the cast is great all the way, from the principals and the hard-working child leads right through to the chorus, who create ballet dancing statues, tap-dancing chimney sweeps, and colourful hideouts in the park where Mary Poppins goes to buy conversation.
The whole production is slickly done. The Banks' home at 17 Cherry Tree Lane is a wonder of the set-designer's art, opening up like a dolls house to reveal the hall and stairs, then turning round to do the same at the back to reveal the kitchen for a hilarious scene when the children ruin the icing of the cook's cake.
The very young might find this stretch a little too long as it runs to just short of three hours. Otherwise this big bright show, bustling with energy, bursting with colour and bringing a tear to the eye of any parent worth their salt, is practically perfect in every way.
Run ends December 6
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