If you have ever even remotely contemplated seeing the stage version of Mary Poppins, throw away any hesitation whatsoever and GO SEE IT!
This week, in the middle of the brief blizzard, I (along with five friends) made the trek through the snow drifts to the absolutely breathtaking New Amsterdam Theatre in Times Square to see the Disney classic, adapted for the stage.
Even though it has been running a few years now, I cannot fathom a more talented cast. The current Mary Poppins is Laura Michelle Kelly, who originated the role in London's West End (and won the Olivier for Best Actress). You might also recognize her as the Beggar Woman from Tim Burton's movie adaptation of Sweeney Todd. You will absolutely fall in love with her portrayal of the famous nanny who turns the lives of the Banks family upside down.
Rebecca Luker (for whom I fell head-over-feet as Lily in The Secret Garden) still sings the role of Mrs. Banks, flawlessly.
Though I loved Gavin Lee as Bert in both London and on Broadway, the present incarnation is created brilliantly by Christian Borle (I could mention his other credits, but all that really matters to me is that he is married to Sutton Foster!) Every time I have seen him in any role, I am always amazed by his natural genius for physical comedy, and very real, honest, vocal interpretations.
While Mary Poppins was nominated for a multiplicity of awards, it comes as no surprise that Bob Crowley won the 2007 Tony for scenic design. The Banks' home is almost an uncredited character in the play... a gorgeous two story home that lifts into rafters, descends beneath the stage, and literally comes to life at the touch of Mary Poppins.
Mary Poppins is truly a magical night on Broadway. From tap dancing on the ceiling, to the nanny soaring over the audience, produced like only Cameron MacKintosh can (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Phantom, Cats...) I can guarantee you will find yourself leaning forward in complete fascination. And while it contains a combination of the elements of both the movie and the original book by E.L. Travers, it certainly is more than just a children's musical. All six of us left the theater that night with enormous smiles on our faces, oblivious to the slushy streets and honking cab drivers. It was hilarious to see the audience pouring out of the theater with open umbrellas, as if waiting for the wind to catch us and fly us over Manhattan.