Plenty of magic in Poppins

By Ilona Hanne

New Plymouth Operatic Society's Mary Poppins is Practically Perfect in every way...
New Plymouth Operatic Society's Mary Poppins is Practically Perfect in every way...

Review by ILONA HANNE

Wonderful, magical, amazing, spectacular, breathtaking, magnificent, marvellous, phenomenal, sensational ... there just aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe New Plymouth Operatic Society's Mary Poppins.
Mary Poppins herself would perhaps agree;
"When trying to express oneself, it's frankly quite absurd,
To leaf through lengthy lexicons to find the perfect word."

There is only one word to describe this production: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
New Plymouth Operatic Society has pulled out all the stops and put together something that is simply magical. From the impressive set design, to the live orchestra and energetic choreography, this show is guaranteed to turn even the grumpiest of grouches into a lover of musical theatre.
It's undoubtedly a team production, with a large and talented cast matched by an equally talented backstage crew. Director and choreographer Sara Brodie, along with musical director Christopher Luke deserve mention as much as any of the cast members for it is under their skilful directon the show truly takes flight.

Bryony Williams as Mary Poppins shows she is practically perfect in every way.

From her first entrance, Bryony Williams as Mary Poppins shows she is practically perfect in every way and brings her unique style along with a little bit of magic to the title role. Just as her character quickly wins over Jane and Michael Banks on stage, so Bryony wins over the audience.

It was a touch of genius to cast her in this production and sets the bar high for the rest of the cast.
Fortunately, they do not disappoint.
Simon Cannell makes the role of Bert his own, bringing energy and talent to the demanding role. Prepare to be amazed when he leads the chimney sweeps in the fantastic Step in Time tap dance.
Hannah Liggett and William Broadmore as Jane and Michael Banks, are mesmerising to watch. They skilfully combine the brattish behaviour of their characters at the start of the story with the likeable cheekiness that their nanny draws out and never once miss a beat.
Kelsey McEwan as Mrs Banks is magnificent. Her rendition of Being Mrs Banks was one of the highlights of the show for me. She is well matched with Jeff Poole's George Banks, with the pair both showing depth in their portrayal of the Edwardian couple, caught in the rules and expectations of society.

Jenny Bennet impresses with her fantastic voice.

As the bird woman, Jenny Bennet impresses with her fantastic voice. Singing a duet with someone as talented as Bryony would leave most people struggling, but Jenny rises to the challenge and gives one of the best performances of the night. When she later sings Brimstone and Treacle in her other role as Miss Andrew, she shows just how talented a singer she is.
While a strict word count prevents me from mentioning every single one of the many talented actors who worked together to create this wonderful show, it would be remiss not to give a few lines to highlight some of the other stand out performances.
Elicia Hitchcock is great fun to watch as Mrs Corry, bringing as much enthusiasm and energy as talent to her performance.
Comic reliefs Robinson Ay (Sonny Deacle) and Mrs Brill (Alyssa Poole) are a brilliant double act who deserved all the applause they got on opening night.
Francesca Carthew is an incredibly talented dancer and actor, as shown in her portrayal as Neleus.
Watching her twist and turn across the stage, it was hard to believe she is only 12 years old.
If you haven't visited Cherry Tree Lane yet, make sure you do before the curtain goes down on the last show later this month.

Mary Poppins is a big show, in every sense of the word. It is big technically, big in cast numbers and it brings big expectations from anyone who has seen the popular musical before. New Plymouth Operatic Society's version lives up to the hype and exceeds all expectations.
If you haven't visited Cherry Tree Lane yet, make sure you do before the curtain goes down on the last show later this month.

Mary Poppins, New Plymouth Operatic Society, July 6 - July 22, TSB Showplace

- Stratford Press

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