Mary Poppins (Adelaide) – Theatre Review

Magic has once again arrived at the Adelaide Festival Theatre, this time in the form of Mary Poppins, a spectacular musical from Disney and Cameron Mackintosh.

After seeing other Disney stage musicals including Frozen, I had no doubt the quality and attention to detail would be to the highest standard. But once again they managed to raise that bar higher with Mary Poppins, making for a truly magical stage experience.

The story follows the lives of the Banks family in early 1900’s England. Parents George and Winifred are struggling to raise their two children, Jane and Michael. George pours hours into his work for the local bank, neglecting his kids and making them act out.

Following a string of nanny’s that have quit due to the kids being such a handful, Jane and Michael wish for a fun nanny who will play games and give them treats. Their wishes are answered when Mary Poppins shows up unannounced and takes on the role, wasting no time to turning the kids around and straightening them out. What ensues is a breathtaking show of singing and dancing, to tell an amazingly fun story that saves a family.

When the curtain rises and you first see the stage, you are transported back in time to England, around 1910. Chimneys billow smoke while chimney sweeps and the Banks family sing and dance in the opening number. But what impressed me most was the set for 17 Cherry Tree Lane, the residence of the Banks family.

An external of the house thrusts forward from the rear of the stage and opens like a pop-up book to reveal the internal set of the house, very reminiscent of a dolls house with a simple staircase in the middle. This effect was so striking and I absolutely loved it, making for a great transition between scenes.

This set makes the backdrop for majority of the show, but there’s also the upstairs nursery and the park, which both lower from the top of the stage, along with a few other set locations, with possibly the most stunning and colourful being the park during the musical number ‘Jolly Holiday’. Plus, one scene in the kitchen, that was possibly the most impressive and interactive set I’ve ever seen!

But what good is a stunning set without an equally stunning cast to bring it to life? 

The stunningly talented and beautiful Stephanie Jones stars in the title role of Mary Poppins and she is absolutely flawless! The way she embraces the role fully with a positive and bubbly vibe, and the way she embodies the character is just breathtaking. Plus, her singing and dancing is top notch. Paired up with the charming and handsome Jack Chambers as Bert the multi-talented chimney sweep, the pair make a dynamic duo that work well together like ice cream and sprinkles!

I loved watching these two on stage together. Jack‘s character Bert had a suave cheekiness and charisma that had everyone wooed, equipped with an infectious smile while shooting winks and nods every now and then. What really blew my mind though was his tap-dancing prowess and gravity defying acts! But to find out more about the latter, you’ll have to see the show for yourself.

I must commend the children on opening night for their stellar performances; 11-year-old Sophie Isaac stars as Jane, and 9-year-old Reuben Koronczyk who stars as her younger brother Michael and makes his theatre debut! These two were a joy to watch, they seemed like actual siblings with the way they interacted, bickered, and fought. They were also so naturally expressive and emotive, really selling their scenes and they couldn’t have been cast more perfectly.

The Mary Poppins musical is everything you’d want it to be. It has successfully captured the magic and mystic of this imaginative story and distilled it into pure joy! The musical is chock full of new and old songs (and earworms) that we all know and love. I’ve also been humming ‘A Spoon Full of Sugar’ all day since seeing the show! It’s perfect for all ages too, so bring along the family, go with your partner and/or friends and have yourselves a jolly good time.

Spit spot, Adelaide! Put your best foot forward and get along to Mary Poppins now! You won’t regret it!

Mary Poppins is now playing at the Adelaide Festival Theatre until August 27.
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Photography by Grant Alexander.

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