Mary Poppins. Ever since that clever, magical and musical nanny floated down to the Banks’ family doorstep and into our hearts, it has been a story that has been loved the world around by audiences of all ages.
For this writer, it is no different, and so an invite for my family and I, to review the hit musical was something we could not resist. Read our review of the Mary Poppins musical below.
What is the Mary Poppins Story?
Unless you have been under a rock for the last century, it would be hard not to have been previously introduced to the magical world of Mary Poppins. Originally a series of eight children’s books written by Australian-British writer P. L. Travers and published from 1934 to 1988, the books were eventually made into a movie by the same name in 1964. Starring beloved actress Julie Andrews, it became an instant worldwide phenomenon.
Mary Poppins is a story about the Banks family, an upper-class British family who seem to have everything together regarding wealth and material possessions but emotionally are falling apart. The father, George, works endless hours at a bank to support his family whilst his wife, Winifred, lives the dutiful and doting social calendar expected of someone of their status.
They have servants and an endless string of nannies hired to look after their two children, Jane and Michael. Largely unseen by their parents, the kids get up to all sorts of trouble. When yet another nanny leaves due to their mischievous behaviour, an ad is answered by nanny Mary Poppins.
Through games, magic and song, Mary helps to reconnect the family, where they discover the most important thing in life is indeed the family that surrounds them.
The Mary Poppins Musical
Adapted from the beloved stories by PL Travers and the original film, the smash hit Mary Poppins musical takes elements from both mediums to create the stage production. Not a direct translation from the film alone, the multi-award-winning and critically acclaimed Mary Poppins musical is co-created by Cameron Mackintosh, with a book by the Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes.
Although there are a few musical adaptations created for the stage production, audiences will be able to sing along to many of the timeless Mary Poppins musical favourites, including “Jolly Holiday”, “Step in Time”, “Feed the Birds” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. New songs and additional music and lyrics have been created by the Olivier award-winning British team of George Stiles and Anthony Drew, including the now celebrated classics “Practically Perfect” and “Anything Can Happen”.
Set on stage at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre, the Brisbane musical features an array of talent, including actors Stefanie Jones as Mary Poppins, local dancing superstar Jack Chambers as Bert, Tom Wren as George and Lucy Maunder as Winifred. The two children, who feature heavily in most scenes, are played by eight different male and female young actors. Patti Newton is also playing the much-loved bird lady in the Brisbane production.
Our Mary Poppins Musical Review
It was hard not to come into this musical with high expectations for something spectacular. An avid fan of Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins, my kids also grew up watching the film and are known to sing favourites like “Just A Spoon Full of Sugar”, “Feed The Birds” and “Supercalafragalisticexpeladocious” just as loudly as me. So, the question was, would the musical provide just as much magic as the film did for us? The answer? A resounding YES!
The minute the curtain lifted and the stage lit up; we knew we were in for a special treat. The staging was an absolute highlight of the show for me, with elaborate and beautifully designed sets rising to greet us. The Banks’ house resembled a towering dollhouse, with the entire two storeys opening up from the front to reveal the incredible interior, sliding backwards and forwards depending on the scene, and even spinning to reveal a complete house structure and back kitchen room at one point. The house, the kids’ bedroom (which lowered down from above when needed), and the hauntingly beautiful park were all spectacular.
Unfamiliar with the books, I was surprised by some of the small changes and adaptations in the musical, but I loved them all too. One, which involved one of the children’s toys coming to life and towering over the bedroom, was in some ways spooky but also my children’s favourite scene due to the scale and animation of the toys.
The talent of all those on stage was evident, with incredible vocals from all being a stand-out. Stefanie Jones was practically perfect as Mary Poppins and Jack Chambers was mesmerising as the cheeky but lovable Bert – his pedigree as an amazing dancer being showcased as he tapped and spun his way through the musical.
The children who played Jane and Michael also did an incredible job, as did the actors playing their parents. Some of my favourite scenes in the movie were the ones that involved the bird lady, and Patti Newton was simply brilliant in this part. Other stand-outs were Miss Andrew, the bad nanny, and the comical duo of Mrs Brill and Robertson.
Overall, we came away with nothing but praise for this performance. We loved singing along to all of our favourite songs and joined the enthusiastic audience who also clapped and sung along throughout.
My kids loved the whole thing, particularly the brilliant way Mary’s magic was brought to life through clever staging and props and the amazing dancing. Keep an eye out for a scene where Bert tap dances his way up the sides and upside down along the roof of the stage!
If you haven’t had a chance to see this musical yet, then please, do yourself a favour and book some tickets. I guarantee you will have an experience you won’t forget and, regardless if you are a fan from decades ago, you will no doubt leave as one after watching the show. After all, it is practically perfect in every way!
Mary Poppins Musical Details
Location: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Prices: $59.90 – $129.90*
Run Time: 2 hours and 50 min
Bookings: Bookings can be made via the QPAC website.
Dates: Running until Sunday, 15th January 2023
Auslan Interpreted Performance: Sunday, 18th December 2022 @ 1pm
Audio Described Performance: Saturday, 14th January 2023 @ 2pm
Website: Mary Poppins Musical
Mary Poppins will next head to Melbourne’s Her Majesty Theatre from Sunday, 29th January 2023.