Weather warning, something is on the horizon. What’s that flying in over the CN Tower? Is it a bird, is it a plane…no its the nanny of all nannies, the umbrella wielding heroine of children’s literature…the wonder that is…Mary Poppins.
Last weekend, the lady made famous by the magic of Walt Disney, flew into Toronto under her signature umbrella, with her magical bottomless bag in her possession, ready to give the city a taste of her delightful British etiquette.
Before the show began, I waited in the lobby anxiously trying to catch a glimpse of the cast of the timeless story I have come adore since early childhood. As we were called into the main theatre of The Lower Ossington Theatre, you could overhear adults whispering to each other with excitement and anticipation, about how much this show meant to them growing up. But to hear the children attending chat to each other about their expectations, honestly filled me with joy, as it just proved how a show created in 1964 still resonates with every age group today.
As the lights went down, everyone held their breaths, as Bert (LOT regular Bryden Rutherford); the much-loved chimney sweep, with a heart of gold and a face full of soot, appeared on stage. As he sang the opening number Chim Chim Cheree, I could not help but feel the energy in the room rise. It never fails in being the perfect song to begin the classic musical, as it sets the scene, through its perfect narrative lyrics.
As the stage transformed before my eyes, it simply left me speechless; which in my case, is not very often, indeed. The creative crew, set creators, costume & stage attendants all deserved a standing ovation for their efforts in creating the scenes that appeared before the audience’s eyes. From the black smoking chimney tops of industrialised London to the kitchen of the Bank’s Family, and from the Mrs Corry’s Talking Shop to the Children’s Nursery… I was blown away by how the set moulded itself from one scene to another within seconds.
But what about the main cast, I hear you ask? Where Mary’s employers exactly what I expected. Well, they were that and much more. Rachel Savlov, who played the eldest child Jane Banks was phenomenal in her role, as she had her character’s privileged characteristics down to a T. As for Liam McAlpine, who played her younger brother, Michael Banks, he never failed once in having the crowd laughing with his trickster antics and funny one-liners. I applauded both their stage professionalism and acting ability, which can be difficult to master at such a young age. Their singing ability was tremendous, as well as their energetic choreography, throughout each musical number.
But what about the heroine herself? Surely that is what you all want to know. Was she as magical as the movie? Did she live up to the character originally created by novelist P.L Travers. After seeing Julie Andrews take the role in the movie, Zizi Strallen dominating the UK’s West End, & Ashley Brown taking its Broadway run by storm…who was next to be passed the torch? Or umbrella in this case. Step forward KATE SUHR. A well known face on the Toronto theatre scene, Kate did not just play the worldwide loved nanny…but she became her in every sense; through every perfectly pronounced line, to her elegant choreographed movements, right down to the familiar graceful presence of our much-loved female protagonist.
With her history of playing leading ladies in recent roles such as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Maria in The Sound of Music, and Nancy in Oliver, this current role only proved to the audience even more, of how diversely talented this actress is.
And what better time to be given the role of Mary Poppins than now. What with the recent announcement of a Mary Poppins film sequel set for a 2018 release, directors should be taking a few pointers from the LOT’s leading lady, after this fabulous performance.
Although hard to chose from the entire show, my top 3 favourite musical number scenes were as follows:
“A Man Has Dreams” – It is a song that always pulls at my heartstrings, as it is a moment when father-figure George Banks (Thomas Davis) shows his vulnerable side in the stillness of the night. Like many fathers both in times gone past and today, they are made grow up and forget childish things, but lose the magic along the way.
“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” – How could I not love this moment? It is the point in the show when every cast member shines equally. With its addictive, funny and a somewhat difficult to pronounce signature lyric, it is a delight to all. It is the moment when the eccentric Mrs Corry (played by the talented Chelsey MacLean), proprietor of the imaginary “Talking Shop,” assists Mary and Bert in helping the Bank’s children to finally believe in themselves.
“A Spoonful of Sugar” – Another unforgettable number; this is when the magic explodes onto the stage. With the mesmerising magical wonders Mary Poppins performs in front of the audience, accompanied by these slick lyrics, it had everybody swaying and tapping their feet along the aisles.
Much credit must be given to Saphire Demitro in he role as Mrs Brill, the housekeeper. Her over the top outbursts, perfectionist nature (that could rival Mary Poppins herself) and her insistence on doing things her way, had me in tears of laughter. I have seen Saphire play several roles before, and one thing is for sure…she fits perfectly into a role where her comedic personality can be let loose.
Also Adeen Ashton was astounding in her take on Miss Andrew, the nanny of nightmares…or as Jane and Michael know her as “The Holy Terror.” Adeen portrayed this zero tolerance, no-nonsense and strict nanny with such power and emotion, that even writer P.L Travers (who surprisingly preferred creating dark characters) would be proud off.
Throughout the musical, there are several magical tricks that had both adults and children scratching their heads, with curiosity as to how they pulled it off. I sat there with my mouth wide open with surprise and excitement. I immediately remembered to close it quickly, in case Mary Poppins flew off the stage and told me “you are not a cod-fish.”
Mary Poppins The Musical is one of the most enjoyable musicals I have attended at the Lower Ossington Theatre so far. This is not simply because of its Disney popularity and unquestionable popular tunes, but because of the message of the play. I highlights the importance of family, the need for magical moments in times of darkness, and to maintain the hopeful belief; in the words of Mary Poppins… that “Anything Can Happen If You Let It.”
MARY POPPINS: THE MUSICAL will be performed at THE LOWER OSSINGTON THEATRE until NOVEMBER 20th 2016.
Performances are from Thursday to Sunday at 7:30pm, with matinee shows at 3:30pm on Saturday and Sunday also.
Tickets can be purchased online by clicking HERE or can be purchased at the theatre box office at 100A Ossington Avenue.
For those who wish to experience the Magic of Mary Poppins and save 40% on ticket prices…simply apply the code MAGIC40 when purchasing tickets online.
Hope you enjoy the show, my little fairy followers. xxx