Mary Poppins: In Melbourne.
A musical based on the books of P. L. Travers and the Walt Disney film.
A leek writes’ Arts correspondent in Melbourne, Australia: Lemon Custard is thrilled to be reporting on the latest musicals to hit the city recently.
Having reviewed Hairspray: The Musical in Melbourne for A. Leek, I am now excited to be moving on to my very favourite of Melbourne musicals; Mary Poppins. I saw this positively magical show three times before starting theatre criticism, so I was already full of information and opinions. You can judge whether my review is better for it.
Mary Poppins is a show that you could come to in a huge temper, and yet, before very long, you would find yourself smiling, laughing and applauding. You’d be doing everything a happy audience does.
I reckon all my readers would have seen the Disney Mary Poppins film at some point or another, probably years ago, so that you remember almost nothing – but let me inform you, so you go in there with The Wisdom of Lemon Custard behind you; do not expect to see the film, or the books, onstage. I’m talking about a mix of the two and beyond; something quite original. Much of the music was written specifically for the stage show, though you would still find most of the old classics – with slightly new arrangements. Plenty of elements from P.L. Travers’ books that did not appear in the movie have been brought in, too, and it’s really quite a spectacle.
So you know what not to expect and don’t turn out like all those poor viewers who were anticipating the film, and evidently going “what!?” in their minds: What can you expect?
Well, I’d just say that you can certainly expect a show to lift your spirits higher than Mary herself flies, but I’ve got to be a bit more specific than that. First of all, I can say wholeheartedly that Mary Poppins’ Australian cast are nothing short of amazing. The practically perfect Mary played by Verity Hunt-Ballard alongside Matt Lee’s Bert shine.
Secondly, if you detest the interesting show/boring audience combination, where viewers are unresponsive to the good entertainment in front of them, do not fear. While I admit that I may have just lucked out in striking three extra-good audiences, I can safely say that Mary Poppins is a show of great viewers. I do not mean audience participation (everyone’s least favourite thing), but merely that you are not inhibited at this show, and will be inspired to clap madly and respond to almost everything. Indeed, viewers relating their behaviour to others afterward may grow embarrassed. But when the magic is upon you, you don’t mind. An acquaintance, who also attended the show, told me of thrilled exclamations from children in the audience at the materialization of Mary Poppins’ hatstand out of her bag.
In a nutshell, the audience feel like kids again, and I found myself talking to the people beside me, all three times, looking through the programme with them, and smiling at everyone around me as we departed after the show. Coming out if the theatre is something of a reality check; “oh, there is a world outside. I’d forgotten.” And you’ll be in a great mood for the rest of the day.
That is what theatre at its best does to you.
Mary Poppins runs at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, and closes in Melbourne on April 1.