Left – Verity Hunt-Ballard and Matt Lee. Cover – Verity Hunt-Ballard and cast. Photos – David Wyatt
‘Practically perfect in every way,’ the Brisbane premiere of Mary Poppins is a flying success. This musical is a brilliant adaptation of Maryborough born P.L. Travers’ stories and the Walt Disney film. It superbly balances the original Richard M.Sherman and Robert B.Sherman music and lyrics with new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
Verity Hunt-Ballard plays Mary Poppins with panache and steals the show with every ‘spit spot’. Pippa Grandison is equally commanding as the beautiful Winifred Banks. Both Verity and Pippa give stellar performances and are a delight to watch.
The repressed and rigid George Banks is played by Simon Burke; he is controlled and refined in the role but doesn’t really come into his own until Banks’ transformation. Matt Lee was superb to watch in each of his dance numbers, but a little on the boyish side to convincingly play charismatic chimney sweep, Bert.
The two very talented youngsters who play Jane and Michael Banks are brash and bold in their performances and are a large contributing factor to dynamics that make this musical the spectacular it is.
Other larger than life and unforgettable performances are given by Sally-Anne Upton and Christopher Rickerby who played their comedic roles to the full as Mr and Mrs Banks’ staff, Mrs Brill and Robertson Ay. Natalie Gamsu played a wonderfully wretched Miss Andrew, the nanny responsible for shaping the miserable aspects of George Banks’ persona. Leah Howard is a delicious joy to watch as the sweet shop lady extraordinaire, Mrs Corry.
The glorious set and costume designs have a stunning story book feel that captures the fantasy of the piece entirely. Matthew Bourne’s choreography is dazzling, especially so in the big numbers. ‘Supercalifragilistic’, ‘Step in Time’ and ‘Jolly Holiday’ are pure musical theatre at its best, magnificently brought to life by outstanding ensemble work.
Complete with flying feats, flawless lighting design and enthralling visual effects, Mary Poppins is assured to astonish and delight. It is a marvellous musical adventure that will leave young and old alike believing in the magic of Mary and that ‘anything can happen if you let it.’
Disney and Cameron Mackintosh present
Venue: Lyric Theatre | QPAC, South Bank, Brisbane
Dates: 30 Dec 2011 – 17 Mar 2012
Tickets: $40 – $132.50