EDITOR’S NOTE: Pamela Vesper is out of town. Kurt Benrud was assisted in writing this review by his eight-year-old granddaughter Jessica Marie Talley.
It’s nice to see (and hear) old friends. And who among us is not friends with the characters and songs in the North Carolina Theatre‘s presentation of Disney’s and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, playing tonight through Sunday, July 31st, in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium? We have all found ourselves humming such songs as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Feed the Birds.” And everybody who has seen the 1964 movie has been charmed by Mary Poppins (the “practically perfect” nanny), her friend Bert (the chimneysweep/painter), the Banks family, and a host of others.
This North Carolina Theatre production is directed by Eric Woodall and choreographed by Ryan Kasprzak. It is the last in NCT’s 2015-16 season of locally produced revivals of Broadway musicals, and it is a crowd-pleaser. The singing, the dancing, and the acting are superb!
The sets provided by scenic designer Timothy R. Mackabee are wonderfully ornate, whether we are in the Banks’ household, on the street, in the park, or any other location.
It must be acknowledged that a show such as this that involves magical and supernatural events demands special effects from the sound and lighting teams. Lighting designed by Charlie Morrison and sound designed by Eric Alexander Collins and Brian L. Hunt work seamlessly to give the desired effects. And we must tip our hats to music director/conductor Edward G. Robinson.
The cast consists of a blend Broadway veterans and local talent. Kara Lindsay is charming as the title character. This Mary is instantly likeable by onstage characters and audience members alike. And there is a chemistry between her and each of the other characters that augments this charm.
However, the first character to charm us is Bert. Played energetically by Nicolas Dromard, he appears in front of a scrim, sweeping the front of the stage, wowing us with “Chim-Chim Cher-ee.” In a prologue to the action, he introduces us to the Banks family as they are spotlighted on the set behind the scrim.
The scrim rises, and we find ourselves immersed in the Banks family’s problem: they can’t keep a nanny — six of them have come and gone in the last four months. Mr. Banks is about to place a want-ad, and the children beat him to it with “The Perfect Nanny.” Their want-ad is “published” in a magical way; and it is answered by the flying, umbrella-toting Mary Poppins, who interviews and accepts the family and begins to work her magic on the children and the entire household.
Gary Milner plays an appropriately inflexible yet vulnerable George Banks. We are bothered by his household tyranny and sympathetic to his problems with his job and the “ghost” in his past.
Lisa Brescia gives us a Winifred Banks who is very loving towards her family and quite willing accept her role in the family. But she is also yearning for something more, and she is quite willing to break out of the restrictions of her role in society for the good of her husband and her family.
Riley Rose Campbell and Micah Boan are delightful as Jane and Michael. Both characters are likeable and memorable. And wow, can they sing!
Kathy Fitgerald and Ryan Breslin each earn audience ovations in the roles of Mrs. Brill and Robertson Ay. These characters are harried servants in the Banks household, and each of these actors performs an entertaining “melt-down.” Fitzgerald is also great as the Bird Woman.
The supporting cast is precise and well-polished. Several interesting characters emerge. It is worth mentioning that local singer/actress Yolanda Rabun raised a cheer from the audience as Mrs. Corry.
This production makes a strong statement in favor of women’s rights in the subplot that involves Mrs. Banks and her role in both society and the family. And there is a very entertaining “confrontation between good and evil” when Mary Poppins meets Miss Andrew (who is portrayed as delightfully despicable by Jane Blass).
Get ready to laugh, clap, and sing along. Whether or not you have seen the movie, we guarantee that you will enjoy the play.
SECOND OPINION: July 27th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Jentry Lynn Womack: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=8083; July 27th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Jeffrey Kare: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-North-Carolina-Theatres-MARY-POPPINS-20160727 and July 13th interview with Nicolas Dromard, conducted by Jeffrey Kare for BWW TV: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-Nicolas-Dromard-of-North-Carolina-Theatres-MARY-POPPINS-20160713; and July 27th Raleigh, NC WRAL review by Sarah Lindenfeld Hall for “Go Ask Mom”: http://www.wral.com/review-n-c-theatre-s-mary-poppins-/15881820/ and July 21st interview with Kara Lindsay, conducted by Sarah Lindenfeld Hall for “Go Ask Mom”: http://www.wral.com/-poppins-star-talks-about-n-c-theatre-s-show-sings-a-little-about-spoons-sugar/15866768/; July 22nd Raleigh, NC WTVD/ABC11 video preview: http://abc11.com/entertainment/abc11-gets-a-sneak-peek-at-raleighs-mary-poppins/1438805/; July 21st Raleigh, NC ArtsNow interview with Riley Rose Campbell, conducted by Melissa Howsam: http://www.artsnownc.com/becoming-jane-behind-scenes-kara-lindsay-jane-banks-mary-poppins/ and July 14th interview with Kara Lindsay, conducted by Melissa Howsam: http://www.artsnownc.com/something-mary-behind-scenes-kara-lindsay-mary-poppins/; July 20th Durham, NC Carolina Parent preview by Yolanda Rabun and the North Carolina Theatre staff: http://www.carolinaparent.com/CP/A-Day-in-the-Life-of-North-Carolina-Theatre-Actress-Yolanda-Rabun/; and July 7th New York, NY Playbill.com preview with Nicolas Dromard http://www.playbill.com/article/newsies-and-wicked-star-will-fly-to-mary-poppins. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the July 26th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2016/07/ncts-mary-poppins-stars-broadways-kara-lindsay-and-nicolas-dromard-as-mary-and-bert/.)
The North Carolina Theatre presents Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s MARY POPPINS at 7:30 p.m. July 26-29 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. July 30 and 31 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $25.14-$122.14, except $25 tickets for college students with ID (click here for details).
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/1487494.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949; email@example.com; or http://nctheatre.com/groups.
SHOW: http://nctheatre.com/shows/mary-poppins, https://www.facebook.com/events/951624774906133/, and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/mary-poppins-5832.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z5OpPcprgY&camefrom=EMCL_1203190_46223686.
NCT STUDY GUIDE: http://nctheatre.com/sites/nct/files/MP%20Study%20Guide%20Final_0.pdf.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
2015-16 SEASON: http://nctheatre.com/show-season/201516-season.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE 1: The special $35-per-person Tea with Mary!, including high tea (snacks and drinks), special activities, a photo opportunity with Mary Poppins, and a special gift to take home, starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 30th, in the Jaguar Land Rover Cary Backer’s Club Lounge is SOLD OUT.
NOTE 2: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30th, performance.
Mary Poppins (character): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Poppins (Wikipedia).
P.L. Travers (nee Pamela Lyndon Travers, Australian writer, 1899-1996): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/p-l-travers-434331 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._L._Travers (Wikipedia).
Mary Poppins (1964 film): http://movies.disney.com/mary-poppins (official website), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24421/Mary-Poppins/ (Turner Classic Movies), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058331/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Poppins_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Mary Poppins (2004 London and 2006 Broadway musical): http://www.mtishows.com/disney-and-cameron-mackintoshs-mary-poppins (Music Theatre International), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/mary-poppins-408493 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Poppins_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Richard M. Sherman (music and lyrics): http://www.shermanmusic.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/richard-m-sherman-12396 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0792556/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_M._Sherman (Wikipedia).
Robert B. Sherman (music and lyrics): http://www.shermanmusic.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/robert-b-sherman-12397 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0792567/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_B._Sherman (Wikipedia).
Julian Fellowes (book): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/julian-fellowes-408507 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0271501/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Fellowes (Wikipedia).
Eric Woodall (Benson, NC-born New York City director): http://www.ericwoodall.com/ (official website), http://www.tararubincasting.com/our-team.html (Tara Rubin Casting bio), https://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/90124 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0940106/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://www.facebook.com/eric.woodall.98 (Facebook page).
Kara Lindsay (actress playing Mary Poppins): http://www.karalindsay.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/kara-lindsay-491585 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5012352/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/OfficialKaraLindsay/ (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/KaraLindsay1 (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Lindsay (Wikipedia).
Nicolas Dromard (actor playing Bert): http://www.nicolasdromard.com/NicolasDromard/Home.html (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/nicolas-dromard-97312 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3744450/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/ndromard (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/nicolasdromard (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Dromard (Wikipedia).
Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.