Monday, November 24, 2014

theatre review MARY POPPINS Phoenix Theatre Nov. 21

Click here to read my complete review (highlights below) at

Trisha Hart Ditsworth, Toby Yatso and Cast
Photo: Erin Evangeline Photography / Phoenix Theatre
"Practically perfect" is a phrase that P. L. Travers' iconic literary character Mary Poppins uses to refer to herself. Travers' series of children's books about the infamous nanny set in 1900s London were turned into the classic 1964 Walt Disney film Mary Poppins, which was then expanded into a big family friendly stage musical in 2004. While calling Mary Poppins "practically perfect" makes perfect sense, saying the same thing when describing the superb production from Phoenix Theatre is practically an understatement....The exceptional, led by Trish Hart Ditsworth's excellent portrayal of the strict, yet fun and ultimately loving Mary, and Toby Yatso's spirited take on Mary's chimney sweep friend Burt. Ditsworth has the exact disposition to realize the stern, somewhat cross, yet completely well-meaning Poppins. Her voice excels on the many well-known songs and the new ones as well. Yatso's long, rubbery legs bring an element of comical theatricality to the fun loving Bert...Katie Brown and Isaac Speyer are a winning duo as young Jane and Michael Banks. Speyer is absolutely adorable, with perfect delivery of some of the best comic lines in the show...Director Michael Barnard finds a way to not over-sentimentalize the storyline, allowing the impact of Mary's involvement on the Banks family to play out organically....Barnard and choreographer Sam Hay have combined to deliver several exceptional show stopping numbers...Creative elements are sublime with Robert Kovach's scenic design a combination of two-sided rotating large set pieces and moveable flats to portray the various rooms in the Banks' house and other locations in the show. Judy Ryerson's costumes include a wide range of stunning colors...Full of lively characters and important lessons about taking time to enjoy your loved ones as well as your surroundings, this is an exuberant, lively musical with fun songs and memorable characters that families can enjoy together. Phoenix Theatre's production of Mary Poppins is simply perfect.

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