By Jane Muller
The Vinyl soundtrack recording of the original “Mary Poppins” movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke that I listened to as a child, was scratched from repeated plays.
Based on P. L. Travers‘s book series, “Mary Poppins” the movie was released to critical acclaim in 1964. It was a huge hit as were the songs like academy-award winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. I can still sing along with all of the tunes based on those childhood memories so when I read that there would be some new songs added to the performance of Mary Poppins at Young People’s Theatre (YPT), I was apprehensive.
True to its reputation for presenting stellar productions, YPT’s small tweaks were practically perfect, just like Mary herself. While the story of the magical nanny harkens back to the nostalgia of our childhood for many of us, its themes still ring true for today’s audiences of all ages.
Family connections and challenges, looking for the something fantastical in each day, exploring your potential and making changes for the better are all relatable topics. Mary Poppins helps the Banks family to help themselves in a series of events that are true to the original. Although somewhat abridged, the story remains as powerful and endearing as the one presented in the film that received total of 13 Oscar nominations.
While Andrews won the Best Actress Oscar, it’s difficult to put the spotlight on just one of the actors in the YPT production. The casting is truly amazing with Vanessa Sears playing Mary perfectly, Kyle Blair dancing away with the role of Bert. Jewelle Blackman as Mrs. Banks, Shane Carty as Mr. Banks, Jessie Cox as Jane and Bailey Lewis as Michael, all do justice to their roles as do the rest of the supporting cast, especially Jade Repeta who brings the right amount of shrill to Mrs. Brill, Mr. Banks’ former nightmare of a nannie.
Take the grandkids to the show. Watching the movie and listening to the music would be a great primer but the performance itself has all the magic needed to transfix little kids and be a wonderful introduction to the story. The children in the audience at the Saturday matinee performance I attended were voicing their excitement and anticipation. I worried that their noisy enthusiasm might detract from the performance but they blended into one silent audience at the raising of the curtain.
“Mary Poppins” is perfectly placed within the holiday season, on stage until January 6. It’s recommended for ages 5 and up and runs 90 minutes with no intermission. Visit www.youngpeoplestheatre.ca for tickets and information.