Yesterday evening, after a whole year of increasingly building excitement, I finally saw Disney & Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins at Norwich Theatre Royal! I went with my boyfriend and we both loved the whole experience. The show has taken story elements from both the beloved books by P. L. Travers and the unforgettable Walt Disney movie, which makes for a show that is both familiar and fresh, all whilst being an all-singing, all-dancing spectacular, directed by Richard Eyre.
Zizi Strallen is the full embodiment of Mary; her voice, her expressions, her mannerisms… All practically perfect in every way, entirely fitting for the most magical nanny in the world. Matt Lee is simply charming as the merry chimney sweep Bert, he is a central key part of the narrative and interacts with almost all the characters as well as enticing the audience into the magic and wonder of the world presented on stage in front of us.
I’d particularly like to give major credit to how the show expands the roles of Mr and Mrs Banks, George and Winifred (portrayed brilliantly by Milo Twomey and Rebecca Lock). Saving Mr Banks is one of my favourite recent live action Disney movies, and for me personally, it helped me understand the real story behind Mary Poppins, and which character really needed to be saved; it was not the children, but Mr George Banks himself. P. L. Travers also had a very strained relationship with her father as he would often be overworked by the bank he worked for, he’d turn to alcohol and sadly, troubled Travers Goff eventually died from tuberculosis The character of Mr Banks is, in Pamela Travers’ mind, the father she loved and wanted to save. The man who needed to be taught to put his family first. Mrs Banks plays a very important role throughout the show; she’s a very modern woman for her time, she stands up to her husband and tries her best to make him she the error of his cold, harsh ways. Despite the more fantastical elements of the musical, George and Winifred have a relationship that is very real.
The production values of Mary Poppins is incredible; the props, the costumes, the scenery, and the special effects that appear as if real movie magic is happening right before your very eyes, all so glorious in their own right. Each scene springs to life with beautiful colours, intricate dance numbers and witty dialogue. It’s so hard to pick a favourite moment! I love all the songs, but the original movie numbers will remain my favourites for sentimental, nostalgic reasons. “Feed The Birds” was very emotional; I often well up listening to it. “Feed The Birds” was one of Walt Disney’s favourite songs from all his feature films, and seeing it performed so splendidly on stage, I can see why. The gorgeous, timeless music from the Sherman Brothers is heightened extraordinarily when performed live; “Step In Time“, “Spoonful Of Sugar“, “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” and “Supercalifragilisticexialidocious” stood out for me in particular. As for the original songs written specifically for the show, “Practically Perfect“, “Brimstone And Treacle“, “Being Mrs Banks” and “Anything Can Happen” were all amazing, as were each and every other new musical addition.
My only disappointment? Lack of animated penguins. Oh well, can’t have everything. At least P. L. Travers would’ve been happy to be rid of their waddling, I suppose!
I hope you enjoyed my review. I’ll be posting my Souvenir Haul and my Mary Poppins #OOTD soon, so make sure to check back to see what I wore to the show as well as all the wonderful souvenirs I took home with me!