Mary Poppins – Prince Edward Theatre  

It’s techni-colourful and so tuneful that it really doesn’t matter much if the magic’s a bit thin and it sometimes feels a bit like a variety show strong on spectacular set pieces, but light on narrative focus.

So rather than carping, swallow that spoonful of sugar with Mary (Zizi Strallen) rather than treacle and brimstone with Miss Andrew (Claire Moore) and marvel at the panache of an imaginative production. You won’t forget, for example, cheerful chappie, rubber legged Charlie Stemp – for whom the part of Bert might have been written – tap dancing on the ceiling.

And the chimney sweeps’ dance (choreography by Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mears) leaves you astonished that human arms and legs can move so energetically and still stay in rhythm.

Strallen finds that glassy clarity of voice which we all associate with you-know-who in the film, but still makes the part her own – delivering all those put-downs with aplomb and gliding on and off stage arms aloft like an otherworldly, but faintly comical, swan.

Then there’s 86-year-old Petula Clark holding the floor with a gravelly, poignant account of “Feed the Birds.”

The delightful sets slide on behind the actors so that they are shifted into a different place and time almost imperceptibly. The set for the bank where dourly distant, but later devoted, George Banks (Joseph Millson – good) works is particularly effective with huge Corinthian pillars which appear to be 3D but aren’t.

It may not be Hamlet but it’s a jolly good night out. It also would be an ideal show to take a school party to.


Review by Susan Elkin

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