Well- the phrase ‘practically perfect ‘ certainly comes to mind when it comes to the Arts Club’s current production of ‘Mary Poppins’ playing until January 7, 2014. Seriously- this supercalifragilistic (etc) show goes down like a spoonful of sugar. It was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish, enthralling and exciting audiences from one scene to the next, showcasing those classic cinematic moments and some new cleverly conceived changes, and certainly putting everyone in a ‘jolly holiday’ mood.
I wonder what exactly it is that draws us to a play like Mary Poppins. Is it the temporary relapse back in time to our childhood it provides, or perhaps the fantasy of magic and mystery we love to indulge in? Could it be the charismatic crazy characters we have a long held connection with, or the desire to have had such a role model in our own childhoods? Or maybe…all of the above? Mary Poppins is that kind of story that is universally loved; that soul soaring, eye catching, heart warming tale that teaches us what is truly important in this world and tells us to never stop wanting to simply fly that kite.
Being a beloved classic with such a recognizable central character you can only imagine the intense pressure it must take to remount….and a hell of some pointy outwards-turned black boots to fill! But the Arts Club has surpassed even this Mary Poppins/Julie Andrews idolizer’s expectations. Now perhaps some die hard movie fans might not take kindly to certain changes and additions that vary from the classic cinematic sensation( no spoilers here though! ) but I can say with relative certainty that no one will walk away from this cherry tree lane experience disappointed.
One of my favourite aspects of the play was how it portrayed a more relatable Mr & Mrs Banks, as opposed to the characters displayed in the movie. Both were seen as significantly more sympathetic with the reveal of various aspects of their pasts. A song perhaps not so familiar to the audiences of Disney’s “Mary Poppins” turned out to be one of my favourites: ‘Being Mrs.Banks’ was a touching tune sung by the not-so-suffraget wife of Mr.Banks.
It actually felt at times as if I were watching a movie; the sets and visual effects were so stunning it was almost as if I were sitting in a cinema wearing 3D glasses. And there was certainly no lack of magic onstage- Mary actually pulls out a full sized lamp, hat stand and plant from her carpet bag- among other things. Oh- and did I mention she flies? It was a truly fantastic theatrical experience- one where the outside word merely melted away and I was so intensely focused on the moment nothing else seemed to exist. That is why I love theatre. And that is the mark of a good production- one where you are so deeply immersed in the world created before you that the real one surrounding you pales in comparison.
Trust me- this is definitely one for the kids…or maybe- just the kid in you.
Disclaimer: As a theatre blogger for GVPTA, my ticket was provided free of charge to this production. That being said, opinions and statements made are my own. This is not a review, but a post meant to promote discussion within the Vancouver Theatre Community.