Review: Mary Poppins the Musical at Leicester Curve.

I couldn’t remember much about the film Mary Poppins, other than it’s about a mysterious “perfect” nanny with magical powers, so I had pretty much no idea what to expect from this new stage production from Cameron Mackintosh based on the hit Broadway production.

If like me, you’re unclear of the plot, here’s how it goes. Mary Poppins is the story of the Banks family who live in a big house in London on Cherry Lane. Things are not going well for the family, the children, Jane and Michael, are out of control and are in need of a new nanny. Jane and Michael have their own ideas about what sort of caretaker they should have, while their parents—and in particular Mr. Banks—are insistent on someone strict for the job. When a mysterious young woman named Mary Poppins appears at their doorstep, the family finds that she’s the answer to their prayers, but in the most peculiar way. Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures, but Jane and Michael aren’t the only ones she has a profound effect upon. Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that “anything can happen if you let it”.

Opening at the impressive Curve theatre in Leicester, this brand new touring production blew me away.  Zizi Strallen is faultless as Mary Poppins, never oncetaking a breath throughout the whole show as she danced, was elevated (up the stairs, up the chimney, out the window) and sang her heart out with stunning ability.  Beautiful to look at and with a naughty glint in her eye,  she was simply incredible.   Matt Lee was equally brilliant as Bert, and we couldn't help but smile on the odd occasion where his real Australian accent slipped out a little, reminding us of course of Dick Van Dyke and his incredible accent from the original movie.

Actually, all of the cast were strong with Milo Twomey and Rebecca Lock impressing as Mr and Mrs Banks, Penelope Woodman hilariously portraying the evil Miss Andrew and Wendy Ferguson and Blair Anderson making a wonderful double act as Mrs Brill and Robertson Ay.

In our performance, Colby Mulgrey played cheeky lad Michael Banks with Madeline Banbury at his side as Jane. We were staggered at how good these kids were.

Mary Poppins is a visual spectacle, with huge set pieces impressively transforming seamlessly throughout, brilliant visual tricks and huge Disneyfied props including a giant umbrella making it a joy to look at.   Throw in some fantastic dance routines ("Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and “Step in Time” being the most memorable) and of course a brilliant array of songs including “A Spoonful of Sugar”, “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Practically Perfect” and the whole thing came together as flawless, feel-good show that simply cannot be missed.

Mary Poppins continues at Leicester Curve until 24th October.  See marypoppins.co.uk for full tour dates and tickets.  See curveonline.co.uk for details of forthcoming shows at Leicester's Curve theatre.

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