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Children's shows - reviews

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

Waiting for Mary Poppins

Birmingham Hippodrome
2.00pm, 5 April 2016

The last time we saw the stage version of Mary Poppins, Mr Childplays and I were looking for tips for when looking after our young neices! Now, with a six-year-old ourselves, we knew that her methods are complete bobbins but the actual show is still a wonderful piece of theatre.

In this production, the story of the outwardly prim and proper nanny who turns a pair of rather annoying middle-class kids into something more palatable is colourful, spectacular, fun and just completely joyful, from her first appearance in the Edwardian house, to her climactic exit over the auditorium at the end.

And thankfully it’s shorter than the film – with all that nonsense with the Admiral removed!

Last time I sat through the whole thing with a sense of awe, wondering exactly how they fitted all the scenery back stage and whether or not the credit crunch had passed it by as each new fantastic effect or costume appeared – this time I focussed more on my daughter and her reaction to the spectacular – and she loved it!

The stage effects as things collapse and fall off walls and are then re-instated are superbly worked, the statues that come to life show excellence from the dancers playing them, the changes of scene from grey London day to colourful fantasy world are seamless and the flying is magical.

It looks fantastic, and not just in its design and costumes. The staging of the ensemble numbers is superb which is only to be expected from the wonderful Matthew Bourne who is both choreographer and co-director.

It would be easy to go overboard with a number like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but in Bourne’s skilful hands it is a highly effective piece where the word is spelled out with hand movements rather than there being a lot of leaping about. Brilliant! V is still trying to do it!

And her reaction to Step in Time which includes the marvel of Bert walking upside down around the proscenium arch was perfect – a budding tap dancer herself, I’m going to have to watch her – and our walls – carefully at home!

Zizi Strallen in the title role is “practically perfect in every way”, revelling in the mixture of firmness and kindness that the part requires and Matt Lee as Bert is a pleasing combination of mystery man and cheeky chappy.

Milo Twomey and Rebecca Lock as Mr and Mrs Banks are much more believable than their pompous and flightly film counterparts and the children playing – well the children – were superbly precocious, as the parts demand.

This is a heck of a show, demanding a lot of the performers and they gave it all.

Run time: 2 hours 45 minutes (inc 20 minute interval)

Age range: Suggests 3+ but personally I think 3 is a bit young. It all depends on your child though – I

would say 5-6 upwards if they have the attention span.

Merchandise: The basic programme is £4 – there’s a souvenir one as well which is twice the price but a lovely souvenir. However, if you want a cast-list / songs etc, go for the basic. There are lots of other Poppins-based things so take some cash – you can spend a lot!

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