There’s Magic in Cherry Tree Lane
Culture / December 16, 2014
Mary Poppins brings spoonful of sugar to Vancouver
By Samantha Thompson
There’s something incredibly heartwarming about seeing Mary Poppins on the stage, and the Arts Club’s production of the family favourite is no exception. Everything from the set to the musical numbers will remind you of the best parts of childhood.
This is Mary Poppins’ second consecutive year at the Stanley theatre, and much of the same cast returned for this year’s production. The familiar faces bring a homey feel to the production, like you’re spending an evening with old friends who are conveniently very good at singing songs that you love.
Mary Poppins is hardly an easy role to play, but Arts Club favourite Sara-Jeanne Hosie does so with great grace and passion. She embodies the character, and with every song she sings you can feel the audience shift into a feeling of wonder.
The cast is a strong team, but there is something about Warren Kimmel as George Banks, and Scott Walters as Bert, that are particular stand-outs. Kimmel encapsulates the conflicted character that is George, going from a stand-offish father to the man bullied at the office in one fell swoop. It’s hard not to sympathize with him, even if he refuses to go fly a kite. And Walters as Bert is practically perfect in every way.
The set is excellent, and many of the special effects add to the show. The exception is the projections that are occasionally used to show Mary Poppins, or a bird, flying away. The animation was jilted, and distracted from an otherwise stellar performance. The projection could easily be removed and nothing would be lost from the overall magic of the show.
As a musical, the songs are key to the shows success. Mary Poppins has a soundtrack stacked with hits, and the cast, backed by a strong orchestra and ensemble, carried the tunes without a hitch. The choreography of “Step in Time” is one of the highlights, as it combines tap dancing and energetic singing to make for several short minutes you wish lasted longer.
Although not explicitly a Christmas production, the warm feelings elicited by Mary Poppins makes it clear why the Arts Club has added this play to their December roster. It’s a great show that everyone in your family can enjoy, and as the audience dispersed into the street, off-key renditions of “Spoonful of Sugar” and “Cherry Tree Lane” were audible in the Vancouver night. Surely that is a sign of a good musical.