Buvette Masthead

Reader review: Mary Poppins

Sophia Dickinson

The autumn winds have blown in a very special treat for Canberrans this year—the stage adaptation of Mary Poppins. The world’s most beloved nanny and her encounter with the Banks family is being brought to life in spectacular( or should I say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) fashion by FreeRain production company until March 29 at the Canberra Theatre Centre.

This is a unique production in that it is a mixture of professionals and locals. The Director, Stephen Colyer, and lead characters, Alinta Chidzey as Mary and Shaun Rennie as Bert, direct and perform full-time.

The rest of the cast and crew are Canberrans who participate in theatre alongside work or school. FreeRain production company used this formula for it’s 2013 production of Phantom of the Opera and the 2014 production of Legally Blonde with great success, and Mary Poppins is no exception. It’s fantastic to see that Canberra’s local talent have the opportunity and ability to work with the best in the industry.

Alinta Chidzey as the title character is, in the character’s own famous words, ‘practically perfect in every way’. She delivers every line, hits every note and treads every dance step with delightful precision. It was a wonderful performance that I think audiences anywhere in the world would appreciate.

The rest of the cast does a brilliant job too.

From Bert and his tap-dancing chimney sweep colleagues, to Mrs Corry and her colourful company, who verbally and physically spell out supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with frantic accuracy, everyone on stage met the high standard set by the lead.

They all looked the part too, neatly decked out in early 1900s attire then switching to whimsical and weird variations for the fantasy scenes. The orchestra sounded magnificent although at times they drowned out the singing, but I’m sure that’s just a technical issue that will be sorted out by the next performance.

The one thing about the show that I wasn’t consistently impressed by was the set, however I was privvy to a preview performance before opening night so this may be why it wasn’t quite perfect.

I loved the scenes in the Banks’ house, which was a 3-D black and white outline of the interior. The street and park scenes however, only had a few electronic screens on either side of the stage that showed lampposts and other simple images relevant to the setting. To me it just didn’t create enough atmosphere and the stage looked a bit bare at times.

That said, a lot of amazing things happen during the show that I was surprised could be achieved in a live performance. Magic happen right before your eyes! Remember Mary’s mystical bag out of which she pulls an entire hat stand? They’ve got it in the show, along with plenty of other tricks. I don’t want to ruin all the surprises in store for you, so I’ll just say the show certainly lives up to it’s message, anything is possible.

At the heart of the show is a touching story about a family that needs to be reminded to appreciate the love they have for each other, the most magical thing of all. No doubt many of you have fond memories of the classic Disney film, and you might have seen the movie Saving Mr Banks, which tells the story behind the original book by P.L. Travers.

Seeing the live show is a wonderful opportunity to revisit or perhaps discover this enchanted tale. And I have it on good authority from my date for the evening, mother of an adorable almost three-year-old, that kids will love it too!

The essentials
What: Mary Poppins
When: 12 to 29 March
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
How much: Tickets start from $45
Tickets: Visit Canberra Theatre Centre
Web: www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au


Sophia Dickinson

Sophia is a true Canberra girl having been born and raised here, and she now works in the public service. She loves Canberra for all it has given her from a great education, fulfilling work to opportunities to indulge her love of dance and music. She is passionate about travel and writing, and studied post-graduate media and communication. She has appeared in several local amateur theatre productions, although she prefers to be an audience member these days. More about the Author