Practically perfect in every way. That is how Mary Poppins describes herself in the musical by the same name currently on stage at Austin’s own ZACH theatre. This production definitely fits that description. From the opening lines to the final curtain Mary Poppins is an exceptional piece of musical theatre. Now I want to include a disclaimer here, this is not the movie version of Mary Poppins. The musical which was produced and created through Disney Performing Arts and Cameron Machintosh originally, is much closer to the original books by P.L. Travers. Don’t worry though, you will still get to enjoy all of the classic Sherman brothers’ songs like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and A Spoon Full Of Sugar, but they are not in the same places and settings in the stage production as they are in the movie. But honestly it doesn’t matter, because when the source material is pure magic, you are sure to get nothing but pure magic. Then when you add in the creative team at ZACH headed by Dave Steakley, ZACH’s Artistic Director and the director for this production you get an end result that is practically perfect in every way.
Steakley has infused this show with Art, and a personal story that makes this show so much more than the story of a magical fantastical nanny dropping into a needy family’s life. Steakley has made this show into a work of art from top to bottom. The scenic design inspired by art that Steakley encountered in France, to the costumes full of color and life and character, all wrapped up in a love story to the memory of his beautiful mother. This show is gorgeous.
Each of the actors in this show are having simply the best time, of course, and it shows! The chorus is energetic and lively, the supporting characters are real and human and relatable. Then there are the stars, Jill Blackwood as Mary Poppins and Matthew Redden as Bert who make you forget there ever was a Julie Andrews or a Dick Van Dyke. Redden is curious and playful, while Blackwood is charmingly sweet, and authoritatively calm at the same time. Simply put Blackwood is completely Mary Poppins, and Redden sweeps you off your feet and into the story of a lifetime.
As I mentioned before there is more to this cast than just the stars, the entire cast is fantastic. Tyler Jones and Jen Young are a perfect pair as Mr. and Mrs. Banks. Young shows the conflict inside her fighting to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. Jones shows a true arch of character as we see Mr. Banks true self emerge with the help of Mary Poppins’ presence. Then there is Michelle Alexander a ZACH favorite and for good reason! Michelle brings to life the fun and fabulous word mistress Mrs. Corey, and the dark and brooding Miss Andrew. Both characters from Alexander are rich and full, you love one and hate the other as the story intends! There should also be an honorable mention for Ryan Smith whose portrayal of the infamous bird woman is moving and beautiful!
All in all, there is not a weak link in this show. Every piece is practically perfect. This show will leave you with a song in your heart and a pep in your step. No spoon full of sugar needed here! Go See Mary Poppins while you can! I give this show a rare 6 out of 5 stars!
Mary Poppins plays at ZACH theatre through September 4, 2016 for more information and tickets log on to ZACHtheatre.org