Friday, 20 May 2016
Mary Poppins the Musical, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Considering I'm not exactly a theatre/musical/stage show fan, I have indeed attended my 2nd within 6 months now haha! My Mam and I saw The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, London for her birthday in December - something we'd wanted to see for years (see the review here) - but we didn't expect to be back in a theatre until the Aladdin musical starts to tour...and that'll be a long time.
It was just on a whim that we decided to book for Mary Poppins when I saw an advert pop up on my Facebook. After all, it is one of my all time favourite live action movies, with some of the best songs in a film ever. (Oh, and the tickets were pretty reasonably priced too.)
The day came around pretty fast and what with it being in one of the only cities I actually like (read - can cope with), Edinburgh, I was extra excited. Despite having passed the theatre on past occasions, I'd never really paid much attention or realised that it was, in fact, a theatre...it doesn't really look like one after all. I have to admit that I am more inclined to traditional buildings so the modern glass frontage doesn't appeal to me, still, the inside was as breathtaking as I'd hoped.
At this point, I have to tell you about our seats...or more so who was seated next to us. Not only did we have the angriest woman alive in front of us with her two rude and nosey kids, I had an overly enthusiastic man with no regard for other people's personal space or boundaries to my left. It was bad enough that he kept trying to tell anyone within earshot what happened in the show (which annoyed me because although I already knew, they are better as surprises!) but he was also shouting to his mother who was sat 3 rows in front, right up until it started.
It didn't stop there, though! Oh no. For the entirety of the show he clapped, cheered and kept shouting 'oh yes, that's good. I like that!'...and I don't mean when everyone else was clapping and cheering, this was at moments where the rest of the audience were silent.
I personally just thought it was rather rude and what with my issues with being in public/social situations it made my time at the theatre pretty uncomfortable. I will not let that affect my review at all, however, so after that rather long tangent, let's get on with it.
Unlike The Lion King, I was going into Mary Poppins with little prior knowledge and no recommendations or stories from other people. I'd watched the under-a-minute teasers on Facebook/YouTube, which of course looked bright and beautiful but that was it.
From the get go the scenes and props were top notch! The magic/ 'effects' were fabulously fun and the style of it all was whimsical and different while still fitting into the period in which the story is set.
The use of props including Mary's famous umbrella, measuring tape and, of course, bag is excellent from beginning to end - I loved that these were included, as not everything from the original classic story were...which I'll touch upon later.
As for the cast, well! Zizi Strallen as Mary had been raved about in reviews but what with Julie Andrews being who I associate as being Mary, I was skeptical. I needn't of been. She was practically perfect!! In fact, the casting on a whole was equally as brilliant as that of the Lion King. Vocalists, dancers, actors - top notch. Obviously, though, I mean it is a West End Disney show!
I found that some of the characters had the direction switched a little and I wasn't the biggest fan of that. The children were naughtier and Winifred more uptight or worrisome which correlated with the personality of the mother shown in 'Saving Mr Banks', as opposed to the strong and lively lady that Glynis Johns brought to life in 1964. My personal favorite characters were Bert portrayed by Matt Lee, Mrs Brill (the cook) portrayed by Wendy Ferguson and George Banks who was played by Milo Twomey.
I guess I'd better talk about the story itself? If you are like me and adore the Walt Disney adaptation of the legendary PL Travers books, do not go into this expecting to see that. Before you say 'duhh', I didn't expect to see animated penguins or whatever but I'll admit to being disappointed when some of my pinnacle moments had been axed completely, replaced with wacky, modern scenes. Don't get me wrong it's all still astoundingly done, I just would have (selfishly) liked to see the moments so close to my heart.
If you know me, you might be aware of my extreme emotions and how I cry very easily. Well, you won't believe me when I say I didn't cry until we saw the bird woman!! That is how different this production is, reducing the sentimentality.
Overall, Cameron Mackintosh has created an exciting and ever magical show, bringing it right into the present day, merging some of the songs and characters we know and love with catchy new numbers and different characters to get to know. The dance sequences are choreographed exquisitely, my favorite being the Step in Time rooftop part.
I've tried my best not to mention many specifics in an aim not to ruin anything so if you do plan to see this show while it is on tour, I urge you not to look at too much information before you go so as not to ruin special moments.
Let me know if you have been or are going and your thoughts!