Hello theatre lovers! It’s been three days since my friend Aaron and I saw and had our minds blown by the cast of Mary Poppins at the Princess of Wales Theatre and neither of us has stopped floating on air. We’re still up in the rafters like the enchanting nanny herself during one of her gravity-defying adventures. It’s been very hard to readjust. However, I shall do my best to explain why it is that you really ought to skip along to the box office and grab some tickets, spit-spot.

Mary Poppins’ strengths lie in its strong cast and powerful, energetic dance numbers. Add to that a flawlessly crafted, magical set complete with a folding, spinning house, smoking chimneys on rooftops and gigantic umbrellas makes this show an absolute visual delight.

Dakota Ruiz steals the show with his pitch-perfect portrayal of the witty, curious, genuinely lovable Michael Banks. Other performances that stand out are that of Dennis Moench’s Robertson the butler; Mark Harapiak’s park keeper; Mike O’Carroll’s bank chairman and Q. Smith’s Queen Victoria/Miss Smythe/Miss Andrew. Each deftly captures the hearts of the audience by the dozen. A supporting role, simple as it may seem to the average theatregoer, presents an interesting opportunity to an actor and the audience. There is the option of breezing through the part and letting the stars of the show shine, but there is also the route of seamless execution and leaving a lasting impression. Mary Poppins is blessed with a cast who has mastered the second.
Rachel Wallace is practically perfect in every way as Mary Poppins and steps into the role as elegantly as Julie Andrews hopped into the film’s sidewalk painting with Dick Van Dyke all those years ago. Her grace and ease onstage has both the audience and cast eating out of the palm of her hand.

A special mention must go to Mrs. Banks. A serious departure from the batty Sister Suffragette who stole our hearts in Disney’s working of Mary Poppins, but what a lady Mrs. Banks turns out to be. No, there isn’t any prancing about or flinging of sashes, but oh, how the character blossomed on the capable shoulders of Blythe Wilson. A vision onstage and off, Wilson is a woman. She breathtakingly illustrates the tension and despair that grows from a deep love for her family and pushes up against the barriers of motherhood, wifehood and womanhood.

Now the dancing. Oh, the dancing! The cast moves together as one harmonious unit, pulling the audience into and spinning them around and around their intoxicating world. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (FYI: spell-check didn’t even blink at this word) is a positively gleeful eruption of madness, a clapping game routine mastered by each dancer and particularly well executed by Ruiz.

Step in Time is a feast for dance-hungry eyes. The chimney sweeps tease with bits of choreography at the beginning, delaying the brilliant moment when they indeed begin to step in time. And step they do! But it is Nicolas Dromard’s Bert that reigns supreme. With a sly you’re-not-gonna-believe-your-eyes-just-you-watch sort of wink, he walks around the frame of the stage. That’s right. He’s 100% upside down and 100% dancing, 100% charming and 100% operating at the top of his game.

And there you have it. I hope this rave review is enough enticement for you. I’ve been performing conversation theatrics and seriously disjointed sentences for anyone who will listen; I loved the show that much. Oh, wait! I know just how to spell it out for you:
It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

~ Annie Webber