Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mary Poppins (the play)

Thanks to my husband for writing that last blog about The Bourne Legacy. While he went out for a guy's night to the movies, I went for a girl's night down to LA to see Mary Poppins the Broadway musical at the Ahmanson Theatre. While it's not a movie, it's based on a movie, so shut up.

Unlike the play Beauty and the Beast, (which I saw in the early, early 90's,) Mary Poppins strays from the movie like a lost dog. I found this at times refreshing because I compared it to the beloved movie less, while at other times I kept wondering, "Wait. What happened to the song that went there? Oh. There it is." or, "Oh. I guess they cut that song. Huh." or, "Okay, they've made this new song a giant theme for the entire play and... it's kind of bland. Oh well." The end result was that I left the theatre wanting to watch the movie, but in a good way. I left the theatre after seeing Beauty and the Beast wanting to see that movie too, but only in order to get the play out of my head.

The cast was delightful, although I'm used to hearing opera concerts and switching from those to Broadway is a little daunting. I like the vibrato, and when show-tune singers don't use it, guess what? They often times go flat. Does everyone notice? No. But some of us snobs are sure to. But that didn't happen often, and most of the time I was impressed and thrilled by the acting, singing, and dancing. I'm always amazed when people can sing and dance at the same time. I can barely walk down Main Street while singing and holding my candle, (it took me three years to learn how to do it without stepping on the person in front of me. But mainly it's hard to sing and dance because of the whole breathing thing.)

I realized something I probably already knew, the part where the chimney sweeps encroach upon the Bank's homestead and sing everything someone says is my favorite part.

The plot and overall theme of "Dad's a Jerk. Mary Poppins fixes Dad." struggled to fight for dominance over the other themes of "We need a better nanny." "We miss Mary Poppins." "The toys hate us." "Who's Neleus's Father?" "George Banks was a child once with a horrible nanny." etc. Part of how the play strayed from the movie was in the sense of a coherent plot. This play was all over the place, but this play was also a royal blast and entirely enjoyable. Take it from someone who's seen a lot of good and crappy plays... and someone who's been in a lot of good and crappy plays.

The stunts were incredible, but what I assume were many jokes, were lost due to poor diction... or maybe they just weren't funny. There was one laugh that I remember, and it was improvised by Bert, ("This is harder than it looks.") (One can tell improv when one sees it, thank you very much.) Yet, I was smiling throughout the entire thing.

-Happy Birthday, Pnutdolly. Sorry you missed out on the play in London, glad we were able to see it together in LA.


  1. I loved the stunts. When MP flies over the crowd at the end, I started to cry. Also, I liked the costumes for Jolly Holliday. I sort of missed "I love to laugh" and I really missed "Sister Sufferagettes." And I HATED that stupid "being Mrs. Banks" song. But I loved that new nanny and her "brimstone and treacle" song. I thought the whole thing was magical also, but you are right about the plot... there was waaaay too much going on.

    I thought to myself after I saw this for the first time "I would want to be any character in this whole play EXCEPT Mrs. Banks. So of course, that is EXACTLY the part I would get. And I would resent it like crazy." I really didn't like her character.

  2. I totally started tearing up when she flew over us! I SOOOO missed I Love To Laugh, and Sister Suffragette. And I HATED Being Mrs. Banks too!!! I did like that mean nanny. Mrs. Banks was a pretty lame part, plus I'm annoyed she wasn't ANYTHING like the woman in the movie, while all the other characters were very similar, (apart from Bert, but I think that's more of an accident. ;) )