Mary Poppins the Musical
Rating:  ★★★★★
Venue: Prince Edward Theatre, London
Cast: Zizi Strallen, Charlie Stemp, Charlie Anson and Amy Griffiths

The stage production of Mary Poppins is brilliantly adapted from the wonderful stories by PL Travers and the original film.  It is co-created by Cameron Mackintosh and has a book by Oscar-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes. With a timeless score by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman including the classic songs; Jolly Holiday, Step in Time, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Feed the Birds with new songs and additional music and lyrics, including Practically Perfect, by the Olivier award-winning British team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

After seeing Mary Poppins on Broadway over a decade ago and being decidedly underwhelmed, I was apprehensive to see this new adaptation of Mary Poppins in the West End. However, when £20 tickets became available, it was impossible to resist (thank you Today Tix!). 

We all know the wonderful story of Mary Poppins. Jane and Michael Banks are a terrible twosome and the Banks family go through nannies like they're going out of fashion. Their parents, George (Anson) and Winifred (Griffiths) are at a loss at what to do with the pair. Enter: Mary Poppins (Strallen). After the children dream up their perfect nanny in an advertisement, Mary Poppins appears - and the Banks children are taken on adventures that go beyond their wildest dreams.

Zizi Strallen completely embodies Mary Poppins, and it goes without saying that she was quite simply practically perfect in every way (I couldn't resist!). From the way she moved, to the way she sang - she was completely hypnotising. It was almost like she was...magical. This version of Mary Poppins is more whimsical and performative than any version I've seen before, which isn't entirely unsurprising considering Matthew Bourne is partly responsible for the choreography

Charlie Stemp's "cheeky chappy" version of Bert is full of fun and cheer. In fact, the word I'd use to describe his portrayal of Bert is loveable. His boyish charm and playful personality shines through and he truly captures the essence of the chimney sweep we've all grown to know and love over the years (including the cockney accent!). 

The stage at the Prince Edward Theatre is one of the biggest I've seen, and I was concerned that the sets would feel bare. But I have to say, the set and staging at Mary Poppins was truly phenomenal. I would go as far to say that it was the best I've ever seen. From the use of lighting, to the intricate sets - not a stone was left unturned when it came to transporting us back to the early 1900's in London and inside the magical mind of Mary Poppins. Giant umbrellas, to towering toys - the set leaves nothing to the imagination, and it's quite frankly, a feast for the senses.

There were many stand-out moments for me. From Mary Poppins flying, to Bert walking on the ceiling; this adaptation sticks to the moments we know and love, as well as adding new ones that will stay with me forever.

There were moments within the show where I just felt so overwhelmed with emotion and felt incredibly lucky to be there. Those moments were Practically Perfect, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Step in Time and Anything Can Happen. The magic of the show lies in those performances, in my opinion. 

A mention must be given to Jane and Michael Banks, who after Mary Poppins, have the most dialogue in the show. For actors so young to be as talented as the adult cast members they're working with; I think it's simply sensational. Their comedic timing was brilliant, and my cheeks were hurting from smiling so much once the performance had finished.

As a theatre lover that has never really been a Mary Poppins fan, I can well and truly say I've been converted. No review can give this show the justice it deserves. You simply have to see to believe. I think this adaption of Mary Poppins is here to stay

You can buy tickets to Mary Poppins at Prince Edward Theatre, London, here: MARY POPPINS TICKETS

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