Lower Ossington Theatre’s production of Mary Poppins (original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman) mixes up just the right amount of magic to awe child and adult audience members alike.
Here’s the quick plot recap: Mary Poppins is the story of our most beloved, unexplainable and unapologetic English nanny, who rescues the Banks family by showing them what should be valued most in life and by never explaining herself in the process.
Produced by Maurice Galpern and directed by Alan Kinsella, this musical is an amalgamation of bright colours, captivating designs, high-energy dance numbers and a little bit of she-did-not-just-pull-that-entire-coat-stand-out-of-her-bag-right-now. Kudos to magician Chris Westfall for making me feel like a perfect cod fish every time.
The multifaceted actors at the LOT deliver Disney-worthy performances, with the young Margot Larivière and Lucas Kalechstein playing a convincing pair as Jane and Michael Banks, Christopher Benjamin playing a spot-on work-obsessed George Banks, and Bryden Rutherford perfecting the charismatic role of Bert.
Michelle Nash has mastered Mary Poppins’ poise. Her stance, posture and movements make for a practically perfect Poppins. That being said, her demeanor lacks a certain sparkle that makes Mary Poppins the mesmerizing character we remember her to be and adore her for. We know Mary Poppins is a relatively firm personality and in these moments Nash shines; however, even in her softest moments, Nash adds an unshakable sharpness to the character that clouds over her potential for charm.
The set design by Michael Galloro is a backdrop of London rooftop silhouettes, sprinkled with stars; the set opens up, storybook style, to the Banks’ fancy schmancy abode. This is a versatile way to encompass the various locations of the musical – and it’s positively stunning.
Choreographer Greg Carruthers brings a wide assortment of enchanting dance numbers to life, incorporating contemporary and classic choreography.
He animates the stage time and time again, with two of the most noteworthy sequences being the tap dancing routine to the hit “Step in Time,” and the modern and eerie choreography of Jane and Michael’s toys as they come to life in the nursery.
The only thing the choreography is missing is penguins. LOT substitutes dancing statues for the absent penguins in Bert’s routine in the park, but they simply don’t do the musical justice. Dancing penguins are a Mary Poppins iconic staple – and they trump statues any day.
All in all, the LOT’s production of Mary Poppins provides for a lively night of theatre the entire family can enjoy. Be prepared to clap along and have these classic tunes stuck in your head for quite some time afterwards. A heaping three and a half spoonfuls of sugar out of four.
Lower Ossington Theatre’s production of Mary Poppins runs until Aug. 30. For more information visit http://lowerossingtontheatre.com/.