This ain’t your mother’s Mary Poppins.
Or rather, the NightBlue Performing Arts Company’s production of Mary Poppins is a jaunty expansion of the 1964 movie we all know and love. Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney film, this Non-Equity premiere musical includes additional music and lyrics with the movie’s songs, capturing the spirit and whimsy of the original.
The new material expands our understanding of the Banks family: buttoned-up banker Mr. Banks, his loving but passive wife, and their incorrigible children, Jane and Michael. We see the difficult choices Mr. Banks must make at his work, deciding whether to choose people over money, and the pain Mrs. Banks experiences as she tries to be the perfect society wife. We see the couple’s strained dynamic and how the arrival of the nanny Mary Poppins profoundly impacts their lives. These additions make the musical more poignant and more interesting for the adults in the audience, without losing the sense of wonder.
Artistic Director David E. Walters does a remarkable job producing a large musical on a small stage through the use of blocking, multiple levels, balconies, and screen projections. Through fanciful and meticulous costuming, the twenty-odd ensemble members are transformed from scene to scene–first decked out in clown-colored Victorian dresses for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” then later dressed in drab newsies garb for “Step in Time,” the musical’s showstopper. The impressive choreography made use of the entire space, and the cast members’ energy rippled into the audience.
Kyrie Anderson’s Mary Poppins is poised, polished, and “practically perfect in every way,” (as she sings in Act I). The supporting cast also impresses, though Sage Harper (as Jane Banks) particularly stands out. She imbues her occasionally whiny (yet always good-hearted) Jane with nuance remarkable for such a young actress.
In short, NightBlue Performing Arts Company has succeeded in staging a big performance in a small theater. The show will delight adults and children alike.
Photos provided by NightBlue Performing Arts Company.